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Wayward Contracts : The Crisis of Political Obligation in England, 1640-1674 - Victoria Kahn

Wayward Contracts

The Crisis of Political Obligation in England, 1640-1674

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Published: 30th August 2004
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Why did the language of contract become the dominant metaphor for the relationship between subject and sovereign in mid-seventeenth-century England? In "Wayward Contracts," Victoria Kahn takes issue with the usual explanation for the emergence of contract theory in terms of the origins of liberalism, with its notions of autonomy, liberty, and equality before the law.

Drawing on literature as well as political theory, state trials as well as religious debates, Kahn argues that the sudden prominence of contract theory was part of the linguistic turn of early modern culture, when government was imagined in terms of the poetic power to bring new artifacts into existence. But this new power also brought in its wake a tremendous anxiety about the contingency of obligation and the instability of the passions that induce individuals to consent to a sovereign power. In this wide-ranging analysis of the cultural significance of contract theory, the lover and the slave, the tyrant and the regicide, the fool and the liar emerge as some of the central, if wayward, protagonists of the new theory of political obligation. The result is must reading for students and scholars of early modern literature and early modern political theory, as well as historians of political thought and of liberalism.

Winner of the 2006 Best Book Prize, Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Abbreviationsp. xiii
Introductionp. 1
From Virtue to Contractp. 8
The Psychology of Contractp. 13
Poetics and the Contract of Genrep. 15
The Usual Storyp. 20
The Road Aheadp. 25
An Anatomy of Contract,1590-1640p. 29
Language and the Bond of Consciencep. 31
Natural Rights Theory: The Social Contract and the Linguistic Contractp. 33
The Common Law: Magna Carta and Economic Contractp. 41
Covenant Theology: Divine Speech Acts and the Covenant of Metaphorp. 48
The Passions and Voluntary Servitudep. 57
The Slave Contractp. 60
The Law of the Heartp. 64
Free Consentp. 73
A Poetics of Contract, 1640-1674p. 81
Imaginationp. 83
Five Knights: From Promise to Contractp. 85
Shipmoney and the Imagination of Disasterp. 90
Henry Parker and the Metaphor of Contractp. 95
Falkland, Chillingworth, Digges, and the Fiction of Representationp. 104
Violencep. 112
Prophesying Revolutionp. 113
The Metaphorical Plotp. 120
Metalanguagep. 134
The Problem of Essexp. 138
Hobbe's Critique of Romancep. 141
The Contract of Mimesisp. 147
Hobbesian Fictionsp. 151
Method and Metalanguagep. 154
Hobbes's Readers or Inescapable Romancep. 166
Genderp. 171
Political Contract and the Marriage Contractp. 174
The Politics of Romancep. 177
Passion and Interestp. 180
Contract on Trialp. 185
The Sexual Contractp. 189
The Paralogism of Romancep. 192
Embodimentp. 196
Resistless Love and Hatep. 198
Paradise Lost and the Bond of Naturep. 207
Pity or Fear of Violent Deathp. 214
Sympathyp. 223
Wise Compliancep. 227
The Politics of Pityp. 234
Sympathy between Menp. 241
Critiquep. 252
Reason of Statep. 254
Samson as Exceptionp. 262
Reasoning about the Exception: Dialectic and Equivocationp. 264
Taking Exception to Pity and Fearp. 270
Political Theology and Tragedyp. 276
Conclusionp. 279
Notesp. 285
Indexp. 365
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691117737
ISBN-10: 069111773X
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 392
Published: 30th August 2004
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.2  x 2.82
Weight (kg): 0.65