International Society for Intellectual History
25-27 June 2014 at Victoria College, University of Toronto
Keynotes: Sarah Hutton (Aberystwyth), Alan Charles Kors (UPenn) & Martin E. Jay (Berkeley).
Organized by: James DiCenso (Toronto), Howard Hotson (Oxford), and James A.T. Lancaster (Warburg).
Over the past few decades, intellectual history has undergone significant changes, as it has adapted to advances in cultural history, the social sciences, the history of the book and the letter, material culture, learned practices, the fine arts, and the history and philosophy of science, among others. Due to its inherently interdisciplinary nature, the adoption of new methods from outside disciplines could be said to be one of its greatest strengths. Yet, at the same time, the speed with which intellectual history has been able to adjust to changes in the outside world has meant that its identity has become fluid; lacking firm definition. What methods today define the practice of the intellectual historian? Is intellectual history a discipline still circumscribed by the “great book” and by “great thinkers,” its focus on canonical authors and their texts a help or a hindrance? Is a canon indispensable for connecting to students and broader readerships? Or should we emancipate ourselves from it entirely? Intellectual Hinterlands proposes to investigate the increasingly expansive historical, contextual, and methodological spaces in which intellectual history is now practiced, and to question whether, as intellectual historians, our unique perspective enables us to address the problems now facing liberal education, the humanities, and society at large.
Call for papers
Intellectual Hinterlands seeks papers and panels which address two general aspects of intellectual history: first, sessions built upon the success of cultural and intellectual contextualization, which stress the historical continuum of ideas which proceed the individual, “great” thinkers around whom courses, publications, and our discipline has principally been built; and second, sessions which take aim at methodological problems, such as the place of “great thinkers,” “great books,” and “grand narratives” in intellectual history, and, moreover, whether/how contemporary academics have addressed recent criticisms. The range of potential subjects of investigation is extremely broad, and may include, but is not limited to:
- the influence and manufacture of celebrity, and the construction of the canon;
- the place of “great thinkers” and “great books” in contemporary intellectual history practices;
- the value of intellectual history to society at large;
- the place of women as subjects of investigation in intellectual history;
- the importance of studying popular intellectual movements in history;
- whether the grand récit is essential or unacceptable within intellectual history at present;
- panels which investigate particular “great thinkers” with an emphasis on their intellectual and cultural contexts: e.g., Nicole Oresme and fourteenth-century astrological practices, Kant and seventeenth-century natural philosophy, Darwin and the nineteenth-century theology, etc.;
- the importance of lesser-known thinkers to the practice of intellectual history;
- the increasing impact of non-western traditions of thought upon intellectual history;
- the place of intellectual historians in the academy;
- the contribution and current place of women in contemporary intellectual history practices;
- the place of the fine arts in intellectual history;
- and popular perceptions of intellectual history.
The first and principal form of contributions will be brief papers relating to the theme of Intellectual Hinterlands at large. Papers can concentrate on any period, region, tradition or discipline, including the arts, humanities, sciences, and various forms of professional learning. As well as individual papers, we welcome proposals for panels of up to three papers and a commentator. Individual papers will be twenty minutes long, followed by ten minutes of discussion.
Please submit abstracts of no more than 350 words for each paper. Proposals for panels featuring a maximum of three papers should not exceed 1500 words. All proposals – for papers and panels – should be accompanied by a brief biographical statement. All proposals are due by 31 January 2014. Please submit paper and panel proposals using the online form.
For more information, please see the conference website: http://isih.history.ox.ac.uk/?page_id=2057.
James A.T. Lancaster (firstname.lastname@example.org)