Susan James

John Findlay Visiting Professor, Fall 2008
Ph.D., M.A., B.A. University of Cambridge

Interests: history of seventeenth and eighteenth century philosophy, political and social philosophy, and feminist philosophy

Susan James received her B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. She taught for two years at the University of Connecticut before returning to Cambridge, where she held a Research Fellowship at Girton College, and then a Lectureship in the Faculty of Philosophy. She moved to the School of Philosophy, Birkbeck College London in 2000. She has been a visiting Fellow at the Humanities Research Centre of the Australian National University, at the Institute for Advanced Study of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. She is honored to hold the John Findlay Visiting Professorship for the fall semester of 08-09.

Susan James’s overlapping areas of philosophical research are the history of seventeenth and eighteenth century philosophy, political and social philosophy, and feminist philosophy. Much of her recent work on all three subjects has focused on the emotions. One of her books, Passion and Action, explores the place of emotion in the philosophy of the early-modern period, and she is completing a book about the political theory of Spinoza in which the connections between passion and politics are a central concern. She has also begun to investigate these same links in a number of papers about current approaches to political philosophy. Her interest in philosophical discussions of the social position of women has led her in both historical and contemporary directions. She is the editor of The Political Writings of Margaret Cavendish, and the author of articles about ongoing debates within feminism.

Among Susan James’ current interests is the theme of superstition in early modern political philosophy. [‘Spinoza on Superstition. Coming to Terms with Fear’, Mededelingen Vanwege het Spinozahuis 88, 2006; ‘Furcht und Aberglaube. Spinoza und die Politik der Affecte’, WestEnd, vol 1 (2005), pp. 49-60; ‘Shakespeare and the Politics of Superstition’ in David Armitage, Connel Condren and Andrew Fitzmaurice eds., Shakespeare and Political Thought
(Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2009)]. This is one of the issues she will be discussing this semester in her graduate seminar on Spinoza’s Tractatus Theologico-Politicus. She will also be giving an undergraduate course on the role of the passions in early-modern philosophy.