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 James Wakefield

James Wakefield


School of Law and Politics

Law Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX

I'm Dr James Wakefield. I've recently begun to publish work under the names 'James R.M. Wakefield' and ‘J.R.M. Wakefield’ to keep librarians, cataloguers and search engines from confusing me with other authors who share my first and last names but write about different topics.

I teach modules on Political Thought, Government and Political Science in the Department of Politics and International Relations. My major research interests are in normative political theory, metaethics and intellectual history. To date, most of my published research has concerned the works of Giovanni Gentile and his peers, but I mean to publish on a wider variety of topics in the future.

With Prof. Bruce Haddock (Cardiff) and Dr Rik Peters (Groningen, NL) I've recently finished working on an edited collection of essays on and by the Italian philosopher and historian Guido de Ruggiero. This will be published as a special issue of a journal and later as a book, provisionally entitled Idealism and Experience: The Philosophy of Guido de Ruggiero.

I'm always happy to talk to students about philosophy, politics, intellectual history and essay-writing.

Since 2016 I have been a Teacher in the Department of Politics and International Relations. Between 2013 and 2016 I was an Honorary Research Fellow of Cardiff University and between 2017 and 2019 I was a Module Tutor, then Tutor, in the Department of Political and Cultural Studies at Swansea University.

I hold a PhD from Cardiff University (awarded 2014). This was supervised by Prof. Bruce Haddock and Dr Peri Roberts in what was then the School of European Languages, Translation and Politics.

Before coming to Cardiff in 2010, I completed an MA in Political Theory at the University of Sheffield (awarded 2011) and a BA in Political Science at the University of Birmingham (2009).

It was in Sheffield that I became interested in ethics, analytic political philosophy and the ethics of education. Dr Fiona Woollard supervised my MA dissertation on school choice and the limits of legitimate parental partiality. This first year of postgraduate study showed me the importance of clarity and precision in writing. That lesson has served me well ever since.

My enduring interests in modern intellectual history and especially the philosophy of Giovanni Gentile were developed during my studies in Birmingham, where Dr Richard Shorten supervised my BA dissertation on Gentile's and Hegel's accounts of the state. Gentile's ideas have been a recurrent theme in the work I have published since then.

Academic positions

  • 2016–present: Teacher, Cardiff University
  • 2017–2019: Module Tutor/Tutor, Swansea University
  • 2013–2016: Honorary Research Fellow, Cardiff University
  • 2011–2013: Associate Lecturer, Cardiff University





Modules taught in the 2018–19 academic year

  • PL9235 The History of Realist Thought in International Relations (as tutor and guest lecturer)
  • PL9343 Crisis and Commitment in 20th Century Political Thought (as guest lecturer)
  • PL9194 Introduction to Political Science (as tutor)
  • PL9196 Introduction to Political Thought (as tutor)
  • PL9199 Introduction to Government (as tutor)

Other modules taught in previous years

  • PL9293 Political Thought from Marx to Nietzsche (as coordinator, 2016–17)
  • MLT319 Research Methods: Approaches to Texts (as guest lecturer, 2014–15)

I am an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

  • EUT012 Twentieth-Century Political Thinkers (2011–13)

I have also taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Philosophy and Politics at Swansea University.

My research interests can be arranged under three convenient headings, corresponding to (1) my past work, (2) my present work and (3) the work I intend to do in the future.

1. Giovanni Gentile

Much of my published work to date has centred on the Sicilian philosopher Giovanni Gentile (1875–1944), who today is most often remembered for his roles in the Italian Fascist government and its cultural corollaries. Gentile's political career has overshadowed his other contributions to philosophy, especially in the English-speaking world, where his works on ethics, personal identity and action are almost entirely forgotten.

In a PhD thesis, a monograph, a jointly edited essay collection and several articles I have sought to subject Gentile's philosophy to the rigorous analysis characteristic of contemporary Anglo-American philosophy, setting aside the author's reputation in order to look squarely at his arguments. I have argued that Gentile is a better philosopher than his critics have usually recognised. In his work can be found the basis for a distinctive and radical form of metaethical constructivism.

I have also written, in collaboration with Lizzie Lloyd, English translations of several of Gentile's essays and research articles about him by Italian scholars working today.

2. Guido de Ruggiero

As of May 2018, I'm co-editing a new volume with Rik Peters and Bruce Haddock on another Italian philosopher, Guido de Ruggiero (1888–1948), who was a fierce opponent of Fascism. Like Thought Thinking, this will include translations, some by me alone and some by Bruce Haddock, of selections from De Ruggiero's works and research articles from Italian scholars. We expect this collection, provisionally entitled Idealism and Experience, to be finished in the summer of 2018.

3. Further research interests

Aside from the Italians, there are several topics about which I plan to write in the future:
  • modern intellectual history and the idea of ‘the canon’;
  • the philosophy of education and its relation to political theory;
  • the idea of non-agency or ‘practical disorientation’ in the philosophy of action;
  • the relationship between normative political theory and the emotions, especially envy and love; and
  • the ideas of the early nineteenth-century writer William Hazlitt.

Areas of expertise

External profiles