Cover: The Consent of the Governed: The Lockean Legacy in Early American Culture, from Harvard University PressCover: The Consent of the Governed in HARDCOVER

The Consent of the Governed

The Lockean Legacy in Early American Culture

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Product Details


$89.00 • £71.95 • €80.00

ISBN 9780674002982

Publication Date: 01/15/2001


245 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


According to Brown, Locke furnishes American culture with a key political and psychological innovation: the understanding of the provisional state of childhood as simultaneously a social institution and a paradigm of freedom. Locke’s entitlement of childhood with rights and desires is a critical element in the formation of the liberal state. Brown convincingly demonstrates that the story of the consenting child (whose desires constantly play off constraints to those desires) is ‘the original story of the American republic.’ The Consent of the Governed offers a penetrating and often dazzling account of the ’liberal paradox of freedom and determinism’ as it is engaged by early American literature and pedagogy.—Jay Fliegelman, author of Declaring Independence

When all the talk is of the manipulation of the governed, it is particularly useful to understand just how the information revolution was waged in the cause of informing consent. Gillian Brown’s erudite and elegantly argued new book recovers the viability of that cause and proposes a historically sophisticated and nuanced vision of the liberal polity, in the eighteenth century and today.—Myra Jehlen, author of American Incarnation

Moving from the political and education philosophy of John Locke through the education of the newly discovered ‘child’ in eighteenth-century and early national America to the equally newly emergent American woman as described in novels, this superb book tells a fascinating story about the insertion of the consenting person into the American political psyche. This is a work that should be read by political theorists, cultural and literary historians, and cultural critics who are willing to have their conventional views challenged.—Gordon Schochet, author of The Authoritarian Family and Political Attitudes in 17th-Century England

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