Dr. Shiru Lim

Core areas
Intellectual history, history of political thought, Enlightenment, eighteenth-century Europe

I am an intellectual historian of early modern Europe. My primary research interests are the in the history of political thought in eighteenth-century Europe, and might be articulated as the following two questions: 1) How was the relationship between philosophy, truth, and politics conceived? 2) What kinds, and how much artifice was seen to be necessary for the foundation, maintenance, and flourishing of civil society?
My current projects are three. The first is to complete the revision of my doctoral thesis into a monograph, on Philosophy and Government in Enlightenment Europe: Frederick II, Catherine II, and the philosophes. This work examines debates in eighteenth-century Europe concerning the idea of philosophical kingship, and shows how disagreements about how to do philosophy were equally conflicts about how to do politics.
The second and third projects stem from my more recent, post-doctoral research. There, I turn more squarely to the second of the aforementioned two overarching questions, that on artifice—that which is artificial, i.e. fabricated, fashioned, synthetic. In the first of these two projects, I take as my point of departure Friedrich Schiller’s Don Karlos (1787) and Giuseppe Verdi’s 1867 adaptation of it, arguing that in their dramatization of the erosion of Philip II’s grip over the Spanish Netherlands, these works cast light on the changing regimes of truth in which the political authority of monarchical government was rooted. In the second, I examine and interrogate various visions of civility in French writing about stage acting from the eighteenth century to the present. In so doing, I ask why we attach so much importance to civility, and if we do so at the expense of disagreement, dissent, and radical politics.

I was previously a Max Weber Fellow (2018-19) at the European University Institute in Florence. I took my doctoral (2019) and bachelor’s (2013) degrees in History from University College London, and my MPhil in Modern European History (2014) from the University of Cambridge. I have extensive experience teaching both history and politics undergraduates the history of political thought from antiquity to the nineteenth century, and the history of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe.

‘Frederick the Great and Jean Le Rond d’Alembert on philosophy, truth, and politics’, The Historical Journal 61:2 (2018), 357-78.