Home » Departments and Centres » History and Civilization » Research & Teaching » Seminars » 2020-2021 1st term » Intellectual and Cultural History

Intellectual and Cultural History

Departmental Seminar

Organised by Prof. Giancarlo CasaleProf. Ann Thomson and Dr Maria Vittoria Comacchi (Max Weber Fellow)
Registration code: HEC-DS-INTCUL-20
Tuesdays 11:00‐12:50, Sala degli Stemmi

Starts on 6 October 2020
Admin. Assistant: Francesca Parenti

Seminar description

This seminar brings together two fields that have generally been considered separately but are increasingly being brought into contact. The aim is to look at both what is specific to each field and what they share. On the one hand, Intellectual History is at an interesting point in its development, with greater exchange between practitioners from different national and intellectual traditions. It is the subject of permanent debate as to its scope and subject matter, and whether it constitutes a separate field of history. It is no longer synonymous with the history of political thought and the ‘Cambridge School’. In particular, there is considerable interaction with cultural history, which itself is a very broad and eclectic field, in terms of both subject matter and of theoretical perspectives. During the 1980s it gathered renewed force in part as a development of social history and in part from the influence of other disciplines such as philosophy, anthropology and literary theory. It remains a wide-ranging method or, more simply, an attitude that aims to decipher meaning in the past and focuses on experience, behaviour and perception, thus encountering the preoccupations of intellectual history.


6 October: Introductory session

  • Peter Mandler, “The Problem with Cultural History”, Cultural and Social History, 1 (2004), 94-117.
  • Brian Cowan, “Intellectual, social and cultural history: ideas in context”, Advances in Intellectual History, ed. R. Whatmore and B. Young, Palgrave, 2006, 170-188.
  • Judith Surkis, “Of Scandals and Supplements: Relating Intellectual and Cultural History”, Rethinking Modern European Intellectual History, ed. D. McMahon and S. Moyn, Oxford U. P., 2014, 94-111.

13 October: Intellectual History: methods and approaches

  • Richard Whatmore, What is Intellectual History?, Polity Press, 2016, ch.1 and 2 (p. 12-44).
  • Quentin Skinner, “Meaning and understanding in the history of ideas”, in Visions of Politics, Cambridge University Press, 2002, 57-89.
  • Jan-Werner Müller, ‘European Intellectual History as Contemporary History’, Journal of Contemporary History 46:3 (2011), 574-90.
  • Melissa Lane, ‘Doing Our Own Thinking for Ourselves: On Quentin Skinner’s Genealogical Turn’, Journal of the History of Ideas 73:1 (2012), 71-82.

20 October: Microhistory

  • Carlo Ginzburg, “Spie. Radici di un paradigma indiziario”, Miti emblemi spie: morfologia e storia, Einaudi, 1986, p. 158-93. English translation: “Clues: Roots of an Evidential Paradigm”, Clues, Myths and the Historical Method, Johns Hopkins U. P., 1989, 96-125.
  • John Brewer, “Microhistory and the Histories of Everyday Life”, Cultural and Social History 7 (2010), 87-109.
  • Francesca Trivellato, “Is there a Future for Italian Microhistory,” California Italian Studies 2/1 (2011), 3-26.

27 October: Mobility

with Valentina Lepri, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences

  • Valentina Lepri, Migration and Knowledge, in Eadem, Knowledge Transfer and the Early Modern University: Statecraft and Philosophy at the Akademia Zamojska (1595-1627), Leiden, Brill, 2019, chapter 2: 39 -67.
  • Alan S. Ross, BA MSt, “Pupils’ choices and social mobility after the Thirty Years’ War – a quantitative study”, The Historical Journal 57/2 (2014): 311-341.
  • Craig Calhoun, “Cosmopolitanism in the modern social imaginary,” Daedalus 137/3 (Summer 2008); 105-114.
  • (optional) Hilde De Ridder Symoens, “Mobility”, in H. De Ridder-Symoens (ed.), A history of the university in Europe: vol. 1, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992, 280-285.

3 November: Mentalités

  • Jacques Le Goff, “Mentalities: a new field for historians”, excerpt from Le travail de l’histoire, 1974.
  • Patrick H. Hutton, “The History of Mentalities: the New Map of Cultural History”, History and Theory, 20 (1981), 237-259.
  • Roger Chartier, “Intellectual History or Sociocultural History? The French Trajectories”, in Modern European Intellectual History, Cornell UP, 1982 / ‘Histoire intellectuelle et histoire des mentalités’ (1983), in Au bord de la falaise, Paris, 1998, 27-66.

10 November: Emotions

  • Barbara H. Rosenwein, ‘Worrying about Emotions in History’, American Historical Review, 107 (2002), 821-45
  • Peter N. Stearns, “Modern Patterns in Emotions History”, Doing Emotions History, ed. S. J. Matt and P. N. Stearns, University of Illinois Press, 2014, 17-41.
  • Marco Menin, “‘Who will write the history of tears?’ History of Ideas and History of Emotions from Eighteenth-Century France to the Present”, History of European Ideas 40 (2014), 516-32.

17 November: Ideas and Technological change

  • Joel Mokyr, ‘The Intellectual Origins of Modern Economic Growth’, The Journal of Economic History, 65 (2005), 285-351
  • MaxineBerg, “Useful knowledge, ‘industrial enlightenment’, and the place of India”, Journal of Global History, 8 (2013), 117-41
  • Daniel Lord Smail, On Deep History and the Brain, University of California Press, 2007, 157-189.

24 November: Cultural Transfers

  • James A. Secord, “Knowledge in Transit”, Isis 95 (2004), 654-672
  • Michel Espagne, “Comparison and Transfer: A Question of Method”, Transnational Challenges to National  History Writing, ed. M. Middell & L. Roura, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, p. 36-53.
  • Michael Werner and Bénédicte Zimmermann, “Beyond comparison: histoire croisée and the challenge of reflexivity”, History and Theory 45 (February 2006), p. 30-50

1 December
11:00-12:50: Print Culture

  • Robert Darnton, “‘What is the history of books?’ revisited”, Modern Intellectual History, 4 (2007), 495-508.
  • Adrian Johns, The Nature of the Book (1998): conclusion (electronic resource); the Introduction is also interesting.
  • James Raven, “New reading histories, print culture and the identification of change: the case of eighteenth-century England”, Social History 23 (1998), 268-87.

14:50-17:00, (Sala del Torrino): The Post-Human

  • Dipesh Chakrabarty, “The Climate of History: Four Theses,” Critical Inquiry 35/2 (Winter 2009), pp.197-222.
  • Loraine Daston, “Intelligences: Angelic, Animal, Human,” in Daston and Mitman, Thinking with Animals (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015), 37-58.
  • Richard Bulliet, “Post-Domesticity: Our Lives with Animals,” in Bulliet, Hunters, Herders, and Hamburgers: The Past and Future of the Human-Animal Relationship (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), 1-35.
















Page last updated on 01 October 2020