Quentin Skinner's "Meaning and Understanding" after 50 years: interdisciplinary perspectives

Wed 7 - Thu 8 Jul 2021

Live subtitling
Online event

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The British Academy on Zoom Webinar
Quentin Skinner's "Meaning and Understanding" after 50 years: interdisciplinary perspectives (Day One)
Quentin Skinner's "Meaning and Understanding" after 50 years: interdisciplinary perspectives (Day Two)

British Academy Conferences bring together scholars and specialists from around the world to consider and evaluate new research in the humanities and social sciences.

Quentin Skinner is one of the world’s foremost historians, writing pioneering studies of authors including Machiavelli and Hobbes, and studying topics such as changing ideas of liberty and the state. His classic 1969 essay "Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas" was a ground-breaking challenge to prevailing ideas about how to read historical texts, and helped found an influential school of interpretation. Fifty years on, the essay is probably the most widely read article in the area and continues to breed debate.

This two-day conference will generate conversations between the paper’s traditional audience of historians, philosophers and political theorists, and new audiences based around important recent scholarly developments. The resulting discussion will critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of Skinner’s ideas, in theory and in practice, and will explore what they mean for future research. Skinner himself will end each day of the conference by responding to the commentators.  

Conference convenors:
Dr Adrian Blau
, King's College London
Dr Joanne Paul, University of Sussex

Speakers and chairs across the two-day conference include: 

Dr Carol Atack, University of Cambridge
Dr Rochana Bajpai, SOAS, University of London
Dr Jacqueline Basu, Stanford University, USA
Dr Teresa Bejan, University of Oxford
Dr Erica Benner, Political philosopher and writer
Dr Samuel Bruce, University of Oxford
Professor Alan Finlayson, University of East Anglia
Professor Gordon Finlayson, University of Sussex
Dr Sophia Hatzisavvidou, University of Bath
Dr Mark Hill, University of Helsinki, Finland
Dr Humeira Iqtidar, King’s College London
Professor Leigh Jenco, London School of Economics
Professor Melissa Lane, Princeton University, USA
Dr Vanessa Lim, School of Advanced Study, University of London
Dr Leandro Losada, I Tatti, Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, Italy and State University of San Martin, Argentina
Professor Al Martinich, University of Texas at Austin, USA
Dr Benjamin Martin, Uppsala University, Sweden
Dr Jonathan Leader Maynard, King’s College London
Professor Alison McQueen, Stanford University, USA
Dr Julia Nicholls, King’s College London
Professor Quentin Skinner FBA, Queen Mary University of London
Professor Sali Tagliamonte, University of Toronto, Canada
Professor Sor-hoon Tan, Singapore Management University, Singapore
Professor Mikko Tolonen, University of Helsinki, Finland

This event will have live subtitles provided by StageTEXT, delivered by MyClearText

Free, booking required

This two-day conference will take place on Zoom Webinar. The link to join each day of the event will be sent to you in separate confirmation emails when you book. If you have any questions about this conference please refer to our Public Events FAQs. If your question is not answered, please email [email protected].

While the conference will be hosted on Zoom Webinar, you can join other attendees and speakers during lunch on both days, at the end of Day One, and the final break on Day Two in breakout rooms via Zoom Meetings, allowing you to network and talk in groups as you would at an in-person conference. This aspect will be managed by the conference convenors rather than the British Academy and further details will be made available to attendees ahead of the conference.


Book day 1

The first day of this two-day conference will take place on Wednesday 7 July (12:00-17:00).

The second day of this two-day conference will take place on Thursday 8 July (12:00-19:30).

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