Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The idea of liberty has been the subject of incessant debate. People around the world define the concept of liberty in different ways. For example, supporters of gay rights claim that liberty gives homosexuals the right to marry, yet at the same time, conservatively-inclined people in the United States argue that their liberty is threatened when President Obama executes his plans for the health care system. People have argued about the meaning of liberty throughout the centuries. Although the focus of the debates seemed to be diverse, the spirit underlying the debates was always the same: expanding the realm of human liberty for outside groups. The history of early modern American freedom, Michal Jan Rozbicki concluded in his book, was “a lengthy chronicle of diverse groups pounding at the gates and demanding membership.”1 As historians continue to explore how different groups of people have claimed liberty for themselves, it becomes clear that liberty is not a self-evident right, but is instead a locus of conflict and contestation.


This work made publicly available electronically on September 4, 2012.

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