Home » Departments and Centres » History and Civilization » Research & Teaching » Seminars » AutumnTerm 2013-2014 » Circulation of Information and Ideas

Circulation of Information and Ideas

Research Seminar

Prof. Ann Thomson and Dr. David Do Paço (Max Weber Fellow)

Tuesdays, 11:00-12:50, sala Belvedere

Admin. Assistant: Francesca Parenti 

Starts on 8 October 2013

Seminar material


Seminar description

It is increasingly realised that intellectual history cannot limit itself to the study of particular texts in particular national contexts but must also take account of both a wider international dimension and the concrete circumstances of the production and circulation of texts, ideas and information, integrating the perspectives opened up by the study of cultural transfers. This seminar, intended for researchers working in different historical fields and dealing with various aspects of transnational history, will therefore approach transnational intellectual history from the point of view of the circulation of ideas and information. Taking account both of what circulated (including different types of information) and the concrete circumstances and constraints affecting this circulation, it will thus link intellectual and cultural history in a trans-period perspective, looking at circulation both inside Europe and in a global context. We shall begin by looking at the different approaches to the question and the debates on transfers and connected history, together with the methodology and historiography, and shall then concentrate on the study of correspondence and networks (including commercial, diplomatic and institutional networks as well as individual contacts and mobility), publishing, journalism and translation.


General Reading

Peter Burke, A Social History of Knowledge: from Gutenberg to Diderot, Polity Press, 2000; vol.II From the Encyclopédie to Wikipedia; Polity Press, 2012.


8 October - Introductory session

General discussion on the interaction of intellectual and cultural history and of the participants’ research projects; proposals for oral presentations.

  • Brian Cowan, “Intellectual social and cultural history: ideas in context”, Intellectual History, ed.  R. Whatmore & Brian Young, Palgrave, 2006, p. 171-88
  • Stefanie Gänger and Su Lin Lewis, “Forum: A World of Ideas: New Pathways in Global Intellectual History, c.1880–1930”, Modern Intellectual History, 10 (2013), p. 347-351


15 October - Knowledge and Ideas in Transit: Scope and Methods.

  • Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large. Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, U. of Minnesota Press, 1996, p. 27-47.
  • James A. Secord, “Knowledge in Transit”, Isis 95 (2004), p. 654- 72
  • Peter Burke, The Social History of Knowledge: from Gutenberg to Diderot, Polity Press, 2000, ch. 7 “Selling Knowledge”, p. 149-76.
  •  Michael Werner & Bénédicte Zimmermann, “Beyond comparison: histoire croisée and the challenge of reflexivity”, History and Theory 45 (February 2006), p. 30-50


22 October - Cultural Transfers - Speaker:   Dr. Stefan Nygård (Max weber Fellow)  Asymmetrical transfers

  • Michel Espagne, “Comparison and Transfer: A Question of Method”, Transnational Challenges to National  History Writing, ed. Matthias Middell & Lluis Roura, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, p. 36-53.
  • Matthias Middell, “European History and Cultural Transfer”, Diogenes 48 (2000), p. 23-30.
  • Ann Thomson & Simon Burrows, Introduction to Cultural Transfers. France and Britain in the long eighteenth century, Voltaire Foundation Oxford, 2010, p. 1-15


29 October - Speaker: Prof. Kapil Raj (E.H.E.S.S.)

  • “Beyond Postcolonialism . . . and Postpositivism. Circulation and the Global History of Science”, Isis, 104 (2013), p. 337-347
  • “The historical anatomy of a contact zone : Calcutta in the eighteenth century”, The Indian Economic and Social History Review, 48, 1 (2011), p. 55-82


5 November - Book History

  • Roger Chartier, “Languages, Books, and Reading from the Printed Word to the Digital Text”, Critical Inquiry, Vol. 31, No. 1 (2004), p. 133-52
  • Mark Gamsa, “Cultural Translation and the Transnational Circulation of Books”, Journal of World History, 22 (2011), p. 553-75
  • Aileen Fyfe, Steam-Powered Knowledge : William Chambers and the Business of Publishing, 1820-1860,  ch. 16 “The Dissemination of Cheap Instruction”


12 November - The Republic of Letters

  • Charles W. J. Withers, Placing the Enlightenment. Thinking Geographically about the Age of Reason, U. Of Chicago Press, 2007, p. 42-49
  • Peter Burke “The Republic of Letters as a Communication System”, Media History, 18:3-4, (2012), p. 395-407


19 November - Guest Speaker: Prof. Howard Hotson (Oxford University) Cultures of Communication in an Age of Crisis: the Many-Layered Network of Samuel Hartlib


26 November - Entangled networks : social positioning and European circulations in 18th-century Vienna (Dr. David Do Paço)

  • David Do Paço, “Eighteenth Century Central Europe in Transcontinental Trade: The Trading Company of Molla Mustafa and the Viennese Conscription of 1767”
  • Marshall D. Sahlins, Culture in Practice. Selected Essays, New York, Zone Books, 2000, p. 415-68


3 December - Guest Speaker: Prof. William Slauter (Université Paris 8)  The Circulation of News and Political Documents between America, Britain and France in the 18th century.

  • W. Slauter, “A Trojan Horse in Parliament. International Publicity in the Age of the American Revolution”, Making News, p. 15-31
  • W. Slauter, “The Paragraph as Information Technology. How News Traveled in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World”, Annales HSS 67, no. 2 (2012), p. 253-78
  • Robert Darnton, “An Early Information Society: News and the Media in Eighteenth-Century Paris”, American Historical Review, 105 (2000), p. 1-35


10 December - Translation

  • Peter Burke, “Cultures of translation in early modern Europe”, in Cultural Translation in Early Modern Europe, ed. Peter Burke & R. Po-chia Hsia, Cambridge, 2007, p. 7-38
  • Fania Oz-Salzberger, “The Enlightenment in Translation: Regional and European Aspects”, European Review of History: Revue Europeenne d’Histoire, 13:3 (2006), p. 385-409


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