This course will explore both recent and earlier theoretical discussions of political representation,
approaching it as both philosophical concept and as a necessary technique of democratic politics.
It will consist of five sections. (1) First, we’ll study Hanna Pitkin’s seminal work The Concept of
Representation (1967), which distinguished among several forms of representation, including
formalistic, descriptive, symbolic, and substantive modes. (2) Next, we’ll review some of the
most important theoretical contributions post-Pitkin. (3) We’ll then turn to another way of
thinking about representation: the distinction between synecdochical (part-for-whole) and
metaphorical (this for that) representation and its political significance in ancient Greece and
Rome. (4) We’ll continue our exploration of earlier historical material by examining canonical
discussions of political representation from early modern English, American, Swiss and French
sources. (5) We’ll close by returning to the immediate present, spending a week on each of three
authors doing exciting work on the theory of representation today: Richard Tuck (Harvard and
Cambridge), Hélène Landemore (Yale) and Wendy Salkin (Stanford). Schedules permitting,
some of them may be able to join us to discuss their current projects.
While the course is primarily aimed at graduate students, advanced undergraduates with
sufficient background are very welcome with permission of the instructor. Please apply by email
to email@example.com. Attach your transcript and a writing sample and be aware
that I may request a short chat before I approve your enrolment. Auditors are also welcome,
although I’d appreciate it if those who can enroll Sat/Unsat could do so.