HUMS 363, Modernities - Machiavelli and Machiavellianism

Meeting Time: 

Course Description: 

Machiavelli remains the most widely discussed and debated figures in the Western political canon. This course offers a close reading of his two major treatises, the Prince and the Discourses on Livy as well as important sections from Livy’s history of Rome. We then consider influential nineteenth and twentieth century interpreters of Machiavelli from Hegel to Gramsci to Leo Strauss.

Prerequisites: DS, Intro to Political Philosophy, or some familiarity with Early Modern Intellectual History.

To preregister for this seminar, students can use the web address below to fill out a seminar preregistration application. Applications will be accepted between 9am on April 6 and 5pm on April 21. Seminar instructors will select their rosters and wait-lists after the 21st, and students will be informed of the results – that is, whether they are on the roster or the waitlist for each seminar for which they have completed a form– by April 30. To access the preregistration application for this seminar, students must copy and paste this link:…

Led By:

Professor Steven Smith

Steven B. Smith has taught at Yale since 1984 and is the Alfred Cowles Professor of Political Science. His research has focused on the history of political philosophy with special attention to the problem of the ancients and moderns, the relation of religion and politics, and theories of representative government.

His best-known publications include Hegel’s Critique of Liberalism (1989), Spinoza, Liberalism, and Jewish Identity (1997), Spinoza’s Book of Life (2003), Reading Leo Strauss (2006), and The Cambridge Companion to Leo Strauss (2009), Political Philosophy (2012), and Modernity and its Discontents (2016) which recently came out in paperback.  You can read about this book and the introductory chapter on the publication page.

Most recently, he has co-edited with Joshua Cherniss The Cambridge Companion to Isaiah Berlin (2018) and is working on a new book In Defense of Patriotism

He is also the Co-Director of Yale’s Center for the Study of Representative Institutions (YSCRI) that focuses on the theory and practice of representative government in the Anglo-American world.
He has received several academic awards and prizes including the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize given by Phi Beta Kappa, but is most proud of receiving the Lex Hixon ‘63 Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences in 2009. He is a die-hard Yankees fan and hopes to be able to play for the team in the next life.