In recent years intellectual history has reestablished itself as a distinct and vital field of scholarship, with a new attention to the social and cultural contexts of thought as well as to language, rhetoric, and meaning. Even as the field has applied insights from a broad range of other disciplines, and especially from literary studies and philosophy, its practitioners have sought an understanding of thinkers, ideas, and texts that is emphatically historical.
The next meeting of the 2015-16 Triangle Intellectual History Seminar is Sunday, October 18, 2015. Gerald Izenberg, Professor at Washington University of St. Louis, will lead a seminar on “The Necessity of Identity– and the Dangers of a Wrong Concept.”
During the first part of his talk, Professor Izenberg will look at Heidegger’s definitive philosophical demolition of the idea of substantive self-identity, and his ingenious but failed attempt to reconstitute it in the form of collective identity, with ominous implications. The second part of the talk, which is the conclusion of Professor Izenberg’s forthcoming book, makes the case for the necessity of identity, rightly understood, on philosophical, psychological, social and historical grounds.
Paper available | TIHS_GIzenberg Contents & TIHS_GIzenberg Heidegger* | Click here to download.
(*Please note: Though the title of Chapter Two includes Sartre, the reading for the Seminar includes only the Heidegger section.)
Paper available | TIHS_Kessler | Click here to download.
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The history departments at three Triangle Area universities – Duke University in Durham, North Carolina State University in Raleigh, and The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill – have established a Program in Intellectual History for students pursuing the MA and Ph.D. in Modern European, Russian, or American History. Within easy access of each other, these universities now form a major national center for graduate teaching and research in the humanities and social sciences. The Program is designed to take advantage of their unique concentration of resources:
The uniqueness of our program lies in both its thematic inclusiveness and its methodological orientation. The faculty is committed to a contextual approach to intellectual history. Context is broadly defined, but we believe that intellectual historians make their distinctive contribution to knowledge when they study texts to recover the historical meanings of ideas. To that end we seek to understand how ideas were formed, reformulated, argued, and received in specific historical contexts. We also wish to develop a closer relationship between European and American intellectual history – one that will enrich both areas. Hence we encourage research that draws comparative conclusions about thinkers and ideas on both sides of the Atlantic, and that explores transactions and mediations between American and European intellectual discourses.
Students develop plans of study involving intellectual historians from all three universities. Thanks to the diversity of faculty, students can explore a wide variety of themes, combining intellectual history with cognate fields in history and other disciplines. They can apply concepts and insights from feminist theory, literary and cultural theory, psychoanalytic theory, studies of the construction of national and ethnic identity, the history of science, the history of philosophy, political theory, and social theory.