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School of History

HIST0898 - State, Law and Decision: Political and Legal Thought of Carl Schmitt

Semester: Autumn

Module Convenor: Dr Samuel Garrett Zeitlin

Through this module, students will engage with the intellectual and ideological origins of the Nazi Empire  and the jurisprudence of early twentieth century Germany as these are expressed in the early writings of one of German National Socialism’s foremost lawyers, propagandists, and theoreticians. This module will introduce MA History students to the early legal and political thought of Carl Schmitt (1888-1985), a German lawyer and state theorist who later was active in German National Socialism from 1933 to 1945 as well as after the Second World War.


The course will begin with a close and contextualist reading of Schmitt’s early Statute and Judgment (1912), then proceed to Schmitt’s Value of the State and the Significance of the Individual (1914), followed by close engagement with Schmitt’s post-World War I works, Political Romanticism (1919) and Dictatorship (1921), and concluding with more famous works like Political Theology (1922) and The Concept of the Political (1927/28/32/33) seen anew through the lens of the earlier work. The aim of this module is to enable students of history to gain a deep understanding of Carl Schmitt’s early legal and political thought. 


Required texts:

Carl Schmitt, Early Legal-Theoretical Writings (ed. Vinx et al.) (CUP: 2021/2 [1912-1914])

Carl Schmitt, Political Romanticism (tr. Oakes [1919]) 

Carl Schmitt, Dictatorship (tr. Hoelzl and Ward) (Polity Press, 2014 [1921])

Carl Schmitt, Political Theology (tr. Schwab) (UChicago Press [1922])

Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political (tr. Schwab) (UChicago Press [1927-1932])

Carl Schmitt, Land and Sea (ed. Berman et al.) (Telos Press, 2015 [1942])


Assessment: Essay (4,000 words) 100%

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