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.
Where do ideas fit into historical accounts that take an expansive, global view of human movements and events? Teaching scholars of intellectual history to incorporate transnational perspectives into their work, while also recommending how to confront the challenges and controversies that may arise, this original resource explains the concepts, concerns, practice, and promise of “global intellectual history,” featuring essays by leading scholars on various approaches that are taking shape across the discipline.
The contributors to Global Intellectual History explore the different ways in which one can think about the production, dissemination, and circulation of “global” ideas and ask whether global intellectual history can indeed produce legitimate narratives. They discuss how intellectuals and ideas fit within current conceptions of global frames and processes of globalization and proto-globalization, and they distinguish between ideas of the global and those of the transnational, identifying what each contributes to intellectual history. A crucial guide, this collection sets conceptual coordinates for readers eager to map an emerging area of study.