Jan-Melissa Schramm : « The Idea of Universal Citizenship and the Rhetoric of Rights in the 1790s: Republican Virtue versus British Reform » (28 jan.)

Jeudi 28 janvier 2021 à  17 h : Jan-Melissa Schramm « The Idea of Universal Citizenship and the Rhetoric of Rights in the 1790s: Republican Virtue versus British Reform »

In the trial of Thomas Hardy for the seditious promotion of constitutional reform in London in 1794, the prosecution used all possible means to establish Hardy’s respect for the works of Thomas Paine, and to claim that such respect was inconsistent with British patriotism.  Crucial to this process was Paine’s adoption of French citizenship:
“A letter was then read [to the jury] from Thomas Paine to the People of France, dated Sept. 25, 1792; in this letter he returns them thanks for having elected him a French Citizen, and a Member of the Convention, and on having broken the line which limited patriotism, like vegetation, to the soil.  Theirs, he said, was not the paltry cause of Kings, but the great cause of mankind.”
Historians have long seen the French Revolution as a critical episode in the story of modern citizenship, encouraging, as counsel for the Crown noted above, the crucial separation of patriotism from ‘the soil’ on which a man was born.  But the idea of citizenship was also deeply problematic, promising much and often delivering little to those who most needed its protection.  In this paper, I will look at the relationship between emergent definitions of citizenship and the language of human rights which rose to prominence in this period, probing both their utopian aims and their conceptual incoherence.  I will pay particular attention to the works of Bentham, Godwin and Paine.

Jan-Melissa Schramm est professeure de Droit et Littérature à l’université de Cambridge.  Elle a récemment publié Censorship and the Representation of the Sacred in Nineteenth-Century England (OUP 2019) et co-édité Sacrifice and the Modern Literature of War (OUP 2018).
La réunion se déroulera sur Zoom. Le lien est disponible auprès de fabrice.bensimon(at)sorbonne-universite.fr