Anarchist Essays

Essay #21: John-Erik Hansson, ‘William Godwin as an Anarchist: Reinventing a Canonical Figure’

September 6, 2021

In this essay, John-Erik Hansson examines how and why the 18th-century philosopher William Godwin has been portrayed – positively and negatively – as an anarchist by writers in the 20th century. In so doing, it sheds light on the ideological dynamics and possibilities implicit in the formation and circulation of an anarchist theoretical canon.

John-Erik Hansson is Lecturer in British History at the University of Paris. He recently authored two essays on Godwin’s children’s literature, ‘Through the Looking-Glasses: Godwin’s Biographies for Children’ (2021) and ‘William Godwin, Romantic-Era Historiography and the Political Cultures of Infancy’ (2020), in edited volumes. He is also co-editor of the Ideology, Theory, Practice blog.

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