Approaches to Intellectual History

Research seminar

Prof. Dirk Moses and Prof. Martin van Gelderen

Thursdays 15:10-17:00, sala Belvedere

Secretary: Kathy Wolf-Fabiani (Office VS 017)

Starts on 19 January 2012



Seminar description

The seminar aims to provide an overview of the different approaches and issues that have dominated intellectual history. The focus is less the quest for a definitive method than an exploration of the many approaches and heuristic devices for research in this field. Each session is devoted to a different approach, highlighting the wide variety of questions posed, sources used, and argumentative strategies.



19 January: What is Intellectual History?

• Annabel Brett, ‘What is Intellectual History Now?’, in David Cannadine (ed.), What is History Now? (Basingstoke, 2004), pp. 113-131.

• Richardo Bavaj, ‘Intellectual History’, Docupedia-Zeitgeschichte (2010):

• Peter Gordon, ‘What is Intellectual History?’ (2007, revised 2009):

• Interview with Warren Breckman, co-editor, Journal of the History of Ideas (2007).

• Compare and contrast the founding statement of Modern Intellectual History in its first issue, as well as the mission statement of the ‘International Society for Intellectual History’.

Further readings:

• Elizabeth A. Clark, History, Theory, Text: Historians and the Linguistic Turn (Cambridge, Mass., 2004).

• Anthony Grafton, ‘The History of Ideas: Precept and Practice, 1950-2000 and Beyond’, Journal of the History of Ideas, January 2006, pp. 1-32.

• Jacques Guilhaumou, ‘A propos de l’analyse du discours: les  historiens et le ‘tournant linguistique’, Langage et Societé, Vol. 65, 1993, pp. 5-38.

• Donald Kelley, The Descent of Ideas: The History of Intellectual History (Aldershot, 2002).

• Donald Kelley, Fortunes of History: Historical Inquiry from Herder to Huizinga (New Haven, 2003).

• Dominick La Capra and Steven L. Kaplan (eds.), Modern European Intellectual History: Reappraisals and New Perspectives (Ithaca, 1982).

• Achim Landwehr, Historische Diskursanalyse (revised edition of Geschichte des Sagbaren) (Frankfurt a.M., 2008).

• Philipp Sarasin, Geschichtswissenschaft und Diskursanalyse (Frankfurt a. M., 2003).

• Gabrielle Spiegel (ed.), Practicing History. New Directions in Historical Writing after the Linguistic Turn (London, 2005), pp. 1-32.

• John Toews, ‘Intellectual History after the Linguistic Turn: The Autonomy of Meaning and the Irreducibility of Experience’, American Historical Review, Vol. 97, 1987, pp. 879-907.

• Richard Whatmore and Brian Young (eds.), Advances in Intellectual History, (London, 2006).


26 January: Historicism: Ranke and the Rankeans

• Leopold von Ranke, The Theory and Practice of History, ed. Georg G. Iggers and Konrad von Moltke (Indianapolis, 1973), pp. 25-131.

• Anthony Grafton, The Footnote: A Curious History (London, 1997), chs. 2 and 3.

• Georg G. Iggers, ‘Historicism: the History and Meaning of the Term’, Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 56, 1995, pp. 129-152.

Further readings:

• Felix Gilbert, History: Politics or Culture? Reflections on Burckhardt and Ranke

(Princeton, 1990)

• Georg G. Iggers, Historiography in the twentieth century (Middletown, 1997), part one.

• Georg G. Iggers, J.M. Powell (eds.), Leopold von Ranke and the Shaping of the Historical Discipline (Syracuse, N.Y., 1990), chs. 1-7.

• Georg Iggers, The German Conception of History: The National Tradition of Historical Thought from Herder to the Present, 2nd ed, (Middletown, 1983), chs. 4 and 6.

• Hayden White, Metahistory (Baltimore, 1973), ch. 4.


2 February: Hans Georg Gadamer, Charles Taylor and the Hermeneutic Tradition

• Hans-Georg Gadamer, ‘Text and Interpretation’, in Dialogue and Deconstruction: the Gadamer-Derrida Encounter (Albany, NY, 1989), pp. 21-51.

• Jacques Derrida, 'Three questions to Hans-Georg Gadamer’, in ibid., pp. 52-54.

• John Caputo, ‘Gadamer as a "Closet Essentialist"’, in ibid., pp. 258-264.

• Charles Taylor, 'Gadamer and the Human Sciences', in Robert J. Dostal (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Gadamer (Cambridge, 2002), pp.126-142.

• Richard Bernstein, 'The Constellation of Hermeneutics, Critical Theory, and Deconstruction', in ibid., pp. 267-282.

Further readings:

• Richard Bernstein, Beyond Objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics, and Praxis (Philadelphia, 1983), part three: ‘From Hermeneutics to Praxis’, pp. 109-169 (on Gadamer)

• Josef Bleicher, Contemporary Hermeneutics: Hermeneutics as Method, Philosophy and Critique (London, 1980).

• Don Ihde, ‘Text and the new Hermeneutics’ in David Wood (ed.), On Paul Ricoeur: narrative and interpretation (London, 1991), pp. 124-139.

• Karl Simms, Ricoeur, Routledge (London, 2002).

• Olivier Mongin, Paul Ricoeur (Paris, 1998).

• Paul Ricoeur, Interpretation Theory: Discourse and the Surplus of Meaning, (Fort Worth, 1976).

• Paul Ricoeur, Critique and Conviction: Conversations with Francois Azouvi and Marc De Launay (New York, 1998).

• John B. Thompson, Critical hermeneutics: a study in the thought of Paul Ricoeur and Jürgen Habermas (Cambridge, 1981).

• Ingrid Scheibler, Gadamer: Between Heidegger and Habermas (Lanham, MD, 2000).

• H.J. Silverman (ed.), Gadamer and Hermeneutics (New York, 1991).

• Stephen K. White (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Habermas (Cambridge, 1995).


9 February: Leo Strauss

• Leo Strauss, ‘'What can we learn from political theory', Review of Politics, Vol, 69, No. 4, 2007, pp. 515–529. (Talk given in July 1942, at the New School for Social Research, New York.)

• Leo Strauss, 'How to Study Spinoza's "Theologico-Political Treatise"', Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research, Vol. 17, 1947 - 1948, pp. 69-131

• Robert B. Pippin, ‘The Modern World of Leo Straus’, Political Theory, Vol. 20, No. 3, 1992, pp. 448-472.

• Nathan Tarcov, 'Philosophy & History: Tradition and Interpretation in the Work of Leo Strauss', Polity, Vol. 16, No. 1, 1983, pp. 5-29.


16 February: Historical Contextualism and the Cambridge School

• Quentin Skinner, Visions of Politics. Volume I: Regarding Method (Cambridge, 2002), chs. 2 and 4.

• J.G.A. Pocock, The Reconstruction of Discourse: Towards the Historiography of Political Thought, MLN, Vol. 96, No. 5, 1981, pp. 959-980.


• Mark Goldie, ‘The Context of The Foundations’, in Annabel Brett, James Tully (eds.), Rethinking the Foundations of Modern Political Thought (Cambridge, 2006), pp, 3-19.

• Rafael Major, ‘The Cambridge School and Leo Strauss: Texts and Context of American Political Science’, Political Research Quarterly, Vol. 58, No. 3, 2005, pp. 477-485.

• Ian Ward, ‘Helping the Dead Speak: Leo Strauss, Quentin Skinner and the Arts of Interpretation in Political Thought’, Polity, Vol. 41, No 2, 2009, pp. 235-255.

Further readings:

• Mark Bevir, ‘The Contextual Approach’, in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy, ed. George Klosko (Oxford, 2011), pp. 11-23.

• Mark Bevir, The Logic of the History of Ideas (Cambridge, 1999).

• John Pocock, ‘Foundations and Moments’, in Annabel Brett, James Tully (eds.), Rethinking the Foundations of Modern Political Thought (Cambridge, 2006),  pp. 37-49.

• Kari Palonen, Quentin Skinner: History, Politics, Rhetoric (Cambridge, 2003).

• James Tully (ed.), Meaning & Context. Quentin Skinner and his Critics (Cambridge, 1988).


23 February: The History of Concepts and the History of Metaphors

• Reinhart Koselleck, ‘Introduction and Prefaces to the Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe’, Contributions to the History of Concepts, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2011, pp. 1-37.

• Reinhart Koselleck, ‘Begriffsgeschichte and Social History’, Economy and Society, Vol. 11, No. 4, 1982, pp. 409-427 (reprinted in Koselleck, Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time [New York, 2004], pp. 75-92).

• Reinhart Koselleck, ‘Linguistic Change and the History of Events’, Journal of Modern History, Vol. 61, No. 4, 1989, pp. 649-666.


• Iain Hampsher-Monk, Karin Tilmans, and Frank van Vree (eds.), History of Concepts: Comparative Perspectives (Amsterdam, 1998), esp. chs. by Bödeker, Hampsher-Monk, and van Gelderen.

Further Readings:

• Reinhart Koselleck, The Practice of Conceptual History: Timing History, Spacing Concepts (Stanford, 2002).

• Reinhart Koselleck, ‘The Temporalisation of Concepts’, Redescriptions: Finnish Yearbook of Political Thought, Vol. 1, (1997), pp. 16-24.

• Terence Ball, James Farr and Russell Hanson (eds.), Political Innovation and Conceptual Change (Cambridge, 1989).

• Mark Bevir, ‘Begriffsgeschichte’, History and Theory, Vol. 39, No. 2, 2000, pp. 273-284

• Hans Erich Bödeker (ed.), Begriffsgeschichte, Diskursgeschichte, Metaphern- geschichte (Göttingen, 2002).

• Kari Palonen, Die Entzauberung der Begriffe (Münster, 2004).

• Elias Palti, ‘From Ideas to Concepts to Metaphors: the German tradition of Intellectual History and the Complex Fabric of Language’, History and Theory, Vol. 49, No. 2, 2010, pp. 194-211.

• Melvin Richter, The History of Political and Social Concepts: A Critical Introduction, (Oxford, 1995).

• John Zammito, ‘Review: Koselleck's Philosophy of Historical Time(s) and the Practice of History’, History and Theory, Vol. 43, No. 1, 2004, pp. 124-135.




8 March: Martin Jay’s Intellectual History of Modernity

•  ‘Ten Questions for Martin Jay’, in Warren Breckman et al (eds.), The Modernist Imagination: Intellectual History and Critical Theory (New York: Berghahn Books, 2009), pp. 385-392.

• Martin Jay talking about his book The Virtues of Mendacity: On Lying in Politics

• Martin Jay, Songs of Experience: Modern European and American Variations on a Universal Theme (Berkeley, 2005), intro., ch. 9, and conc.

Further books by Martin Jay:

• The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923-50 (Boston, 1973); 2nd American edition with new preface (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996).

• Marxism and Totality: The Adventures of a Concept from Lukács to Habermas (Berkeley and London, 1984).

• Adorno (London and Cambridge, Mass., 1984).

• Permanent Exiles: Essays on the Intellectual Migration from Germany to America (New York, 1985).

• Fin-de-Siècle Socialism and Other Essays (New York and London).

• Force Fields: Between Intellectual History and Cultural Critique (New York and London, 1993).

• Downcast Eves: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought (Berkeley, 1993).

• Cultural Semantics: Keywords of Our Time (Amherst, Mass., 1998).

• Refractions of Violence (New York, 2003).

• The Virtues of Mendacity: On Lying in Politics (Charlotte, 2009).


15 March: Global Intellectual History

• Sheldon Pollock, ‘We need to find what we are not looking for’, International Institute for Asian Studies Newsletter, special issue on ‘Comparative Intellectual Histories of Early Modern Asia’, No. 43, 2007, pp. 1, 4-5.

• Andrew Sartori, ‘Beyond Culture-Contact and Colonial Discourse: “Germanism” in Colonial Bengal’, Modern Intellectual History, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2007, pp. 77–93. 

• Cemil Aydin, ‘Between Occidentalism and the Global Left: Islamist Critiques of the West in Turkey’, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Vol. 26, No. 3, 2006, pp. 446-461.

• David Armitage, ‘The Contagion of Sovereignty’, South African Historical Journal, Vol. 52, No. 1, 2005, pp. 1-18.

Further Reading

• C. A. Bayly, Recovering Liberties: Indian Thought in the Age of Liberalism and Empire (Cambridge, 2012).

• Kris Manjapra and Sugata Bose (eds.), Cosmopolitan Thought Zones: South Asia and the Global Circulation of Ideas (London 2010).

• Kris Manjapra , ‘From Imperial to International Horizons: A Hermeneutic Study of Bengali Modernism’, Modern Intellectual History, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2011, pp.

• Kris Manjapra, ‘The Illusions of Encounter: Muslim “Minds” and Hindu Revolutionaries in First World War Germany and After’, Journal of Global History, Vol. 1, No. 3, 2006, pp. 363-382.

• Andrew Sartori, Bengal in Global Concept History: Culturalism in the Age of Capital (Chicago, 2008).

• Andrew Sartori, ‘The Resonance of “Culture”: Framing a Problem in Global

Concept-History’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 47, No. 4, 2005, pp. 676-699.

• Partha Chaterjee, Review Article: ‘The Curious Career of Liberalism in India’, Modern Intellectual History, Vol. 8, No. 3, 2011, pp. 687-696.

• David Armitage, The Declaration of Independence: A Global History (Cambridge, MA, 2007).

• W. R. Ward, Early Evangelicalism: A Global Intellectual History, 1670–1789 (Cambridge, 2006).

• Prasenjit Duara, ‘The Discourse of Civilization and Pan-Asianism’, Journal of World History, Vol. 12, No. 1, 2003, pp. 99-130.

• Philip F. Rehbock, Review Article: ‘Globalizing the History of Science’, Journal of World History, Vol. 12, No. 1, 2001, pp. 183-192.

• Special issue, ‘Critiques of the West’, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Vol. 26, No. 3, 2006.

• Special issue: ‘Intellectual History in a Global Age’, Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 66, No. 2, April 2005.


22 March: Michel Foucault, Epistemic Orders and Historical Epistemology

• Michel Foucault, The Order of Things (London and New York, [1966] 1989), pp. ix-xxvi, ‘Foreword to the English translation’ and ‘Preface’.

• Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge (New York, [1969] 1972), pp. 126-131, ‘The Historical a priori and the Archive’.

• Lorraine Daston and Peter Gallison, Objectivity (New York, 2007), intro. and ch. 1.

• Lorraine Daston, ‘Historical Epistemology’, in James Chandler, Arnold I. Davidson, and Harry Harootunian (eds.), Questions of Evidence: Proof, Practice, and Persuasion across the Disciplines (Chicago, 1994), pp. 282-289.

Further Reading

• Michael Foucault, Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology, ed. James B. Faubion and Paul Rabinow (New York, 1994), Part II, ‘Methodology and Epistemology’.

• Arnold I. Davidson, The Emergence of Sexuality. Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts (Cambridge, MA, 2002).

• Elizabeth Deeds Ermarth, ‘Agency in the Discursive Condition’, History and Theory, Vol. 40, 2001, pp. 34-58.

• Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow (eds.), Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics (Brighton, 1982).

• Peter Ghosh, ‘Citizen or Subject? Michel Foucault in the History of Ideas’, History of European Ideas, Vol. 24, No. 2, 1998, pp. 113-159.

• David M. Halperin, ‘Forgetting Foucault: Acts, Identities, and the History of Sexuality’, Representations, No. 63, 1998, pp. 93-120.

• Colin Jones, Roy Porter, Reassessing Foucault, e-Book.

• Paul Allen Miller, ‘Toward a Post-Foucauldian History of Discursive Practices’, Configurations, Vol. 7, No. 2, 1999, pp. 227-246.

• Sara Mills, Foucault (London, 2003).

• Jan Goldstein (ed.), Foucault and the Writing of History (Oxford, 1994).

• Gary Gutting (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Foucault (Cambridge, 1994).

• Moya Lloyd and Andrew Thacker (eds.), The Impact of Michel Foucault on the Social Sciences and Humanities (Basingstoke, 1997).

• Peter Dews, ‘Foucault and the French Tradition of Historical Epistemology’, History of European Ideas, Vol. 14, No. 3, 1992, pp. 347-363.

• Paul Veyne, ‘Foucault Revolutionizes History’, in Arnold I. Davidson (ed.), Foucault and his Interlocutors (Chicago, 1996), pp. 146-182.


Workshop: Revisiting Methods and Approaches in Intellectual History 

Each researcher to prepare one-page, single-spaced position paper laying out and justifying her/his approach in relation to the semester’s readings (Date TBA).





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