Announcing the JHI’s 2019 Selma V. Forkosch Prize Winner

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The winner of the JHI‘s Selma V. Forkosch Prize for the best article published in Volume 80 (2019) is Sophie Smith for “The Language of ‘Political Science’ in Early Modern Europe” (volume 80, no. 2, p. 203–26). The judging committee writes:


The Selma V. Forkosch Prize committee has unanimously agreed to award the prize for the best essay published in the Journal of the History of Ideas in 2019 to Sophie Smith for her article “The Language of ‘Political Science’ in Early Modern Europe.” The author lucidly explores what it meant to speak of ‘political science’ in Aristotle’s key writings on politics and ethics, in medieval Latin commentaries on them, in early modern works on the theme, and in the views that Hobbes constructed in response. She examines with deep learning and great subtlety how ideas of the “political” and of “science,” which separately evolved in this long period, came to be understood in combination as an intelligible object of its own. Her essay, a model of clarity in exposition, examines the role of the texts she studies in raising new questions about the status of “politics” as something that could be investigated and taught and of “political science” itself as field of knowing having a distinctive language of its own.

Sophie Smith is Associate Professor of Political Theory at the University of Oxford. She is currently working on a project on poetry and the origins of “political theory,” and a book about feminism and political philosophy in the late twentieth century.

The JHI Blog extends its deepest congratulations to Professor Smith and looks forward to reading more of her work.

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