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Professor Gregory Claeys

Professor Gregory Claeys

Professor Gregory Claeys - Professor of the History of Political Thought

My teaching covers the history of modern social and political thought from the mid 18th century to the present (and beyond). My research focuses on the history of radical, socialist and reform movements and ideas, and within this I have a special interest in utopian and dystopian thought.

My PhD research concerned the origins of British socialism c. 1815-50, and resulted in two books, Machinery, Money and the Millennium: From Moral Economy to Socialism (Princeton University Press, 1987), and Citizens and Saints: Politics and Anti-Politics in Early British Socialism (Cambridge University Press, 1989). Like many historians I then regressed – ever in search of “origins” – to the 1790s, and wrote a book, Thomas Paine: Social and Political Thought (Unwin Hyman, 1989). From this sprang an interest in producing a new edition of Paine’s writings, which is finally coming to fruition. Thereafter came six further books: The French Revolution Debate in Britain (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), Imperial Sceptics: British Critics of Empire, 1850–1920 (Cambridge University Press, 2010), Searching for Utopia: the History of an Idea (Thames & Hudson, 2011; German, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese editions), Mill and Paternalism (Cambridge University Press, 2013), Dystopia: A Natural History (Oxford University Press, 2016), and Marx and Marxism (Penguin Books, 2018) (Chinese, Greek, Italian translations).

As my field is text-centred, I also commenced in the 1990s a series of primary source editions, plus some volumes of edited secondary commentary. Over sixty of these have appeared. The best-known are The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2010; Turkish edn., 2017) and (with Gareth Stedman Jones) The Cambridge History of Nineteenth Century Political Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2011; Chinese edition, 2018). My current book is provisionally entitled “Utopianism for a Dying Planet”.

Amongst my career highlights are: elected to the Academia Europaea/The Academy of Europe, History Section (2015; one of 237 members); elected Chair of the Utopian Studies Society (2016, re-elected 2019); elected Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce (2019). I have also held a Senior Research Fellowship in the History of Ideas Unit, Australian National University, Canberra (1993), and been visiting professor at Keio University, Tokyo (1995), the University of Hanoi (2008), and the School of Government, Peking University (2009, 2011). I was awarded the Cantemir Prize in 2018 (for Dystopia: A Natural History) for contributions to humanistic scholarship. I have spoken twice at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and in 2019 gave a TEDx talk on Utopia. I have also lectured widely and frequently, and given some thirty plenary lectures at international conferences.

More information about my research is available via PURE

Email -

Twitter - @GClaeysHistory




TEDx; multiple BBC appearances and literary festivals.

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