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Queen's University Library

Highlights from the 18th Century Political and Historical Collections

An exhibition in honour of the retirement of Professor J.A.W. (Jock) Gunn, D. Phil., Oxon., F.R.S.C.
17 October 2002 - 3 December 2002

[18th Century Political Pamphlets]

18th Century Political Pamphlets

Hunting Rare Books for Fun and Profit: 40 Years of Self-indulgence

Public lecture by Dr. Gunn

Saturday, October 19, 2002, 10:00a.m.
W.D. Jordan Library, Douglas Library

In selecting items for the exhibition, Dr. Gunn compares Queen's collections with the listings in the English Short-title Catalogue (ESTC), pointing out some holdings apparently unique to Queen's as well as other more common items and interesting groupings, illustrating overall the depth of our collections and their research value.

The display of books and pamphlets, with commentary, is presented under the following headings:

  • Rarissime (as the book-dealers say)
  • A more technical understanding of rarity
  • Unique in North America
  • Putting items in context
  • Variety
  • Curiosities

British Political Pamphlets

Collecting British Political Pamphlets began at Queen's in the first decade of the Library's existence in the mid-19th century. There were notable donations from Dr. Duncan McArthur (1934) and Dr. A.R. M. Lower (1965) but since then, the development of the collection was undertaken by Dr. Gunn, a world-renowned 18th century scholar. As a result of Dr. Gunn's ongoing efforts, Queen's now has an outstanding research collection that numbers over 2500 and includes some very scarce material, featured in this exhibition.

The range of coverage of this comprehensive pamphlet collection extends from 1642, through the Civil War period, the Standing Army Controversy, the struggles for reform in the 1780s and 1790s and the Reform Bill of 1832. Before the development of general, non-partisan newspapers, the pamphlet was the most important medium for public discussion of a wide range of issues.

This collection is also available and searchable online through QSpace.

[The Honour and Justice of the Present Parliament]

The Honour and Justice of the Present Parliament

[Sedition and Defamation Display'd: in a Letter to the Author of the Craftsman]

Sedition and Defamation Display'd: in a Letter to the Author of the Craftsman

18th Century Books

In addition, the extensive 18th century book collection has been developed to provide strong supportive, contextual research resources. Currently the 18th century collection (books and pamphlets) catalogued in QCAT, the Librart catalogue, is estimated at about 7000 titles. This number, however, does not include the books still only accessible on checklists in the Jordan Library.

[Iconologia or Morall Emblems]

Iconologia or Morall Emblems by Cesar Ripa of Perugia

[Il Seminario de Governi di Stato et di Guerra]

Il Seminario de Governi di Stato et di Guerra


Biography of J.A.W. (Jock) Gunn (D. Phil., Oxon., F.R.S.C.)

Fellow, Royal Society of Canada (1983)
Sir Edward Peacock Professor of Political Studies, Queen.s University

[photo of Dr. Gunn]

Dr. J.A.W. Gunn

Jock Gunn joined the Department in 1960 as a lecturer. From 1963-1965 he was a research student at Nuffield College, Oxford; while at Oxford, his studies were directed by John Plamenatz, and the resulting D. Phil thesis was published as Politics and the Public Interest in the Seventeenth Century (1969). Two years later Gunn published Factions No More: Attitudes to Party in Government and Opposition in Eighteenth Century England (1971). Between 1975 and 1983, Gunn served a Head of the Department of Political Studies; during those same years, he was part of a team that edited volumes of the letters of Benjamin Disraeli (Vols. 1 & 2, 1982). His study of eighteenth-century political ideas, Beyond Liberty and Property, was published in 1983; Mark Goldie of Cambridge University remarked in a review that few Political Science departments could "boast a scholar who writes with such historical finesse," while J. G. A. Pocock lauded the book as a groundbreaking study that would force scholars to rethink long-held assumptions about the period. The same can be said of the articles that Gunn published between 1967 and 1990, many of which are now being prepared for re-publication.

By the end of the 1980s Gunn was turning to the study of French political ideas. After taking some years to "retool," Gunn published his first major study in the new field, Queen of the World: Opinion in the Public Life of France from the Renaissance to the Revolution (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1995), and was appointed to the Peacock Chair in the same year. From 1995 research was focussed on the second major study of French political ideas, "Lessons in Civil Disagreement: Opposition and Party in the French Restoration," now completed by not yet published. The final instalment in the French triptych will be a study of the French contribution to the conception of what constitutes "authentic" government.

In addition to these books, and a succession of seminal articles and incisive review essays, Professor Gunn has made substantial contributions to learning. A supervisor of 14 doctoral dissertations, Gunn is a renowned teacher and moulder of future students of ideas. Queen.s Libraries have also benefited from his influence: since the late 1960s Gunn has guided the development of a collection of some 2500 political pamphlets published in Britain between 1642 and 1840, and has recently been developing a similar collection of French materials. A tireless advocate of scholarly excellence, Professor Gunn has been a credit to Queen.s University, and to the Department of Political Studies.

The exhibit was curated by Dr. Gunn

Last Updated: 19 April 2012

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