Hobbes, Sovereignty, and Early American Literature

Hobbes, Sovereignty, and Early American Literature

by Paul Downes


View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


Hobbes, Sovereignty and Early American Literature pursues the question of democratic sovereignty as it was anticipated, theorized and resisted in the American colonies and in the early United States. It proposes that orthodox American liberal accounts of political community need to be supplemented and challenged by the deeply controversial theory of sovereignty that was articulated in Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan (1651). This book offers a radical re-evaluation of Hobbes's political theory and demonstrates how a renewed attention to key Hobbesean ideas might inform inventive re-readings of major American literary, religious and political texts. Ranging from seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Puritan attempts to theorize God's sovereignty to revolutionary and founding-era debates over popular sovereignty, this book argues that democratic aspiration still has much to learn from Hobbes's Leviathan and from the powerful liberal resistance it has repeatedly provoked.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781107085299
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 07/28/2015
Series: Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture , #173
Pages: 350
Product dimensions: 0.87(w) x 9.25(h) x 6.30(d)

About the Author

Paul Downes is Associate Professor of English and American Literature at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Democracy, Revolution, and Monarchism in Early American Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2002), which was a co-winner of the MLA prize for a first book. He has also written a number of essays on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American fiction. His work explores the concepts of democracy and sovereignty as they have been instituted and imagined in the early United States and in the discourse of transnational humanitarian intervention.

Table of Contents

1. Sovereignty's new clothes; 2. Re-reading Leviathan: the 'state of nature' and the 'artificial soul'; 3. Hobbes in America; 4. 'Heaven's sugar cake': Puritan sovereignty; 5. Tyranny's corpse: Jonathan Mayhew's revolutionary sermon on Romans; 6. 'Imperium in imperio': founding sovereignty; 7. Tar and feathers: Hawthorne's revolution; 8. Hobbes, slavery, and sovereign resistance; 9. Nat Turner and the African American revolution.

Customer Reviews