Modern European intellectual history is thriving as never before. It has recovered from an era in which other trends like social and cultural history threatened to marginalize it. But in spite of enjoying a contemporary renaissance, the field has lost touch with the tradition of debating why and how to study ideas and thus lacks both a well-articulated set of purposes and a range of arguments for exactly what it means to pursue those purposes. This volume revives that tradition.
Recalling past attempts to showcase the diversity and differentiation of modern European intellectual history, this volume also documents how much has changed in recent decades. Some authors are much readier to defend a history of ideas practiced over the long term – once the defining sin of the field. Others go so far as to insist on how ideas are always open to reappropriation and reevaluation beyond their original contexts – suggesting that it is an error to reduce the ideas to those contexts. Others still argue that, under threat from trends like social history, intellectual historians have forsaken any attempt to resolve for themselves how ideas are socially embodied.
The volume also registers old and new trends in history that have affected the study of ideas, including the history of science, the history of academic disciplines, the history of psychology and “self,” international and global history, and women’s and gender history.