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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

History of Political Thought
Punishment and Pardon
The Enlightenment
The (very) Long Eighteenth Century
Political Economy
Conjectural Histories


Sylvana Tomaselli is the Sir Harry Hinsley Lecturer in History at St John’s College and is currently thinking about chance, punishment, inequality, love and respect.  She has written on a variety of topics, including the conjectural history of woman, the character of nations, toleration, and issues within and around feminism, and on a number of authors, including John Locke, Mary Astell, Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Abbé Raynal, David Hume, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, Mary Wollstonecraft, Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill.

Post-graduate supervision interests

She has been involved in the MPhil in Political Thought from its beginnings and has supervised for the MPhil in Politics and International Relations, and has supervised research on a very range of topics, often anchored in the thoughts of such figures as Montesquieu, Bentham, J.S. Mill, Tocqueville, Martha Nussbaum, Wollstonecraft, Rousseau, Kojéve, Beauvoir and other early modern and modern political theorists.  The research of her recent PhD students ranges from David Hume to British Radical of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.


Key publications: 
  • “Mary Wollstonecraft.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy. Ed. Duncan Pritchard. New York: Oxford University Press, URL
  • ‘Reflections on Inequality, respect and love in the political writings of Mary Wollstonecraft’, The Social and Political Thought of Mary Wollstonecraft, Sandrine Berge and Alan Coffee (eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 14-33. ISBN 978-0-19-876684-1

  • 'On labelling Raynal’s Histoire: reflections on its genre and subject’, in Raynal’s Histoire des Deux Indes, Colonialism, Networks and Global Exchange, Cecil Courtney and Jenny Mander (eds.), special volume in Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century (2015 with the Oxford Studies on the Enlightenment (Voltaire Foundation, 2015) pp. 73-87. ISBN: 978 0 7294 1169 1

  • "Mary Wollstonecraft", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL <>.  (First version: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2008, Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Wollstonecraft, Mary)

  • 'Mary Wollstonecraft: The reunification of domestic and political spheres' in Geschlechterordnung und Staat. Legitimationsfiguren der politischen Philosophie (1600-1850), Marion Heinz and Sabine Doyé (eds.), Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie, Beiheft, 2012.
  • 'Montesquieu's L'Esprit des Lois from a Contemporary Feminist Point of View', in Montesquieu zwischen den Disziplinen. Einzel- und kulturwissenschaftliche Zugriffe, Edgar Mass, Günther Lottes, Annett Volmer, Jens Haeseler (Hrsg.), Internationale Konferenz aus Anlass des 250. Todesjahres von Charles-Louis de Montesquieu am Forschungszentrum Europaeische Aufklaerung (Potsdam) , Beiträge zur Politischen Wissenschaft, Band 161, Dunker and Humblot, Berlin, 2010.
  • 'Rousseau juge de Locke or Reading Some Thoughts on Education after Émile' in Studies on Locke: Sources, Contemporaries, and Legacy in Honour of G.A.J. Rogers, edited by Sarah Hutton and Paul Schuurman, Dordrecht: Springer, 2008. ISBN: 978-1-4020-8324-2 e-ISBN: 978-1-4020-8325-9.
  • 'The Spirit of Nations,' in Mark Goldie and Robert Wokler (eds), Cambridge History of Political Thought 1700 -1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), Chapter I.
  • 'Intolerance, the Virtue of Princes and Radicals,' in Ole Grell and Roy Porter (eds), Toleration in Enlightenment Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).
  • Rape (edited with Roy Porter) (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986); Pb: Rape: A Historical and Social Enquiry (1989, with an introductory chapter by Sylvana Tomaselli); Portuguese translation: Estupro, translated by Alves Calado (Rio de Janeiro: Rio Fundo Ed., 1992).
  • Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Men and A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, edited by Sylvana Tomaselli (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).
Other publications: 

Mary Wollstonecraft:  Civil Society, Revolution, Economic Equality in Encyclopedia of Concise Concepts by Women Philosophers, Revolution; Economic equality; Civil society in WOLLSTONECRAFT, Mary Paderborn University (UB) and the German national library in Frankfurt/Leipzig (DNB),

‘Law and Commerce in 1608’ in Law Society: Which is to be Master? The Rt Hon Sir Richard Aikens, Kenneth Richardson, eds., Wildy, Simmonds and Hill Publishing, London, 2011

Teaching and Supervisions


Part I POL 1: The Modern State and its Alternatives 

Part II Pol 7: History of Political Thought up to c1700

Part II Pol 8/10: History of Political Thought c1700 to 1890

Part II Pol 11: Political Philosophy and the History of Political Thought since c 1890

Various MPhil Classes 

Affiliated Lecturer
Sir Harry Hinsley Lecturer, St John's College

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