May
31

First Week of Research Complete

I have been working on my honors thesis for about a week and I have made progress not only in reading, but also in collecting the books that I have set out to read throughout this summer. Luckily, I had met with my adviser before school ended and decided what books I should focus on this summer, and this allowed me to get off to a running start last week. As my abstract post discussed, I will be examining J.S. Mill’s ideas on representative government and how they were influenced by Athens’ democracy.

In the last week, I have purchased the books that will make up my primary reading and referencing for the next year. These include all of Mill’s most famous works such as his Considerations on Representative Government and Utilitarianism. I already had his Principles of Political Economy and On Liberty from other classes that I have taken which made this process easier. Additionally, I bought two works not by Mill: one, the Athenian Constitution by Aristotle which should give me an idea of Athenian institutions and, two, Athenian Democracy in the Age of Demosthenes by M.H. Hansen which should be a great reference piece to help be better understand Athens’ government. In the last week, I also went to Swem and picked up two more more primary sources from Mill including his Autobiography and a collection of his works which has excerpts from his Logic. From Swem, I also got four secondary sources which will provide me with a greater understanding of Mill and the arguments that modern scholars are making about his writing. I hope these will all prove helpful in the coming weeks.

This last week, I also began reading Considerations on Representative Government which I believe will be my most important primary source in this thesis. It is very interesting to read Mill’s ideas on Representative Government because, as someone who has already read much by him in other areas of study, I now get to see him talk more practically about government in action rather than only in theory. Mill, however, still primarily discusses the theory of good government and the aspects of society that go along with it in the abstract. I also have been very interested whenever Mill mentions Athens in his writing. Because that will be part of my focus in the thesis, it is very interesting when I get to see him talk about Athens in his actual writings. It reassures me that my thesis is important because I can see that Athens is a critical piece of evidence for Mill rather than simply an ancient civilization that has no influence any longer.

I am very much looking forward to finishing Considerations and moving on to Mill’s other works and the secondary literature on the topic. I think that I have selected some of the most interesting and helpful books for my thesis and I am excited to get back to work and continue on with the next steps in the process.

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