Triangle Intellectual History Seminar


A collaborative project of NCSU, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Office of the Provost Wake Forest, with support from the Duke Department of History and Religions and Public Life at the Kenan Institute for Ethics.

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.

Fall 2017- Spring 2017 Seminar Dates and Speakers:
(All seminars will meet from *5:00-7:00pm* on Sundays at the National Humanities Center in RTP.)

Sunday August 27, 2017

Terence McIntosh (UNC-Chapel Hill): 'The Voice of Forgiveness: Evangelical Controversies concerning Penance and Absolution during the Reformation and Beyond'

Terence McIntosh teaches in the Department of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His work focuses on early modern Germany, especially its political, economic, and religious history in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His publications include Urban Decline in Early Modern Germany: Schwäbisch Hall and Its Region, 1650-1750 (Chapel Hill, 1997) and several articles and book chapters. His current project, “Disciplining the Parish: Godly Order, Enlightenment, and the Lutheran Clergy in Germany, 1517-1806,” examines the dynamics by which a shifting array of social, theological, and intellectual forces induced prominent churchmen, rulers, and secular thinkers to examine critically and recast significantly the purpose, scope, and nature of Lutheran church discipline at key moments in the early modern period. In doing so, the study opens up fresh perspectives for understanding important facets of the Reformation, the Thirty Years’ War, German Pietism, and the early Enlightenment.

Abstract: Major elements of Lutheran church discipline in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Germany emerged during the Reformation from theological controversies among evangelicals about private confession and absolution. Consisting of three parts, the paper examines these controversies and their long-term significance in fundamentally new ways. The first part contends that the dispute between Luther and Zwingli in the 1520s promted the Wittenberg reformer in 1530, at the Diet of Augsburg, to sharpen his critique of the Roman church with a novel argument about the papists’ conditiona absolution that previous scholarship has not fully appreciated. In revising recent work on the Nuremberg absolution controversy in the 1530s, the second part shows the enormous influence of this argument on the reformer Andreas Osiander, the principal protagonist, who strongly argued for a more consequential use of Lutheran private confession in the imperial city. The paper closes by briefly sketching how the Wittenberg reformer’s condemnation of conditional absolution, reinforce indirectly by the outcome of the Nuremberg controversy, prevented private confession for many decades from becoming an effective pastoral aid for aggressively sharpening Lutheran church discipline.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Janek Wasserman (Alabama / Duke Hope Fellowship): 'Depression, Emigration, and Fascism: The Austrian School Goes Transatlantic'

Janek Wasserman is Associate Professor of Modern German and Central European History at the University of Alabama. He is a fellow at the Center for the History of Political Economy at Duke University in 2017. His first book, Black Vienna: The Radical Right in the Red City, 1918-1938 appeared in paperback with Cornell University Press in 2017. His current book project, Marginal Revolutionaries: Austrian Economics from Coffeehouse to Tea Party, is under contract with an anticipated publication date in 2018.

Abstract: The rise of the most famous cohort of the Austrian School of Economics—Haberler, Hayek, Machlup and Morgenstern—during the era of the Great Depression and fascism is the subject of this essay. It shows how interwar Viennese experience left an indelible imprint on the school, which continued to inform its members’ work in emigration. After a period of intellectual dormancy, the vicissitudes of the world economy awakened interest in Austrian concepts of the business cycle, international trade, equilibrium theory and liberal society. Consequently the Austrians featured in the largest controversies of the period—on the nature of the depression, the possibility of socialism and the future of liberal capitalism—challenging the Keynesians and the Chicago School for early preeminence in transatlantic economic policy discussions. The positions they adopted and the alliances they cultivated provided a template for the postwar neoliberal order they helped to create.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Eric Brandom (Kansas State): 'Georges Sorel and the Problem of Liberalism'

Eric Brandom is a James Carey Research Fellow in the History Department at Kansas State University. He earned his PhD in History from Duke University in 2012. His book manuscript is titled Autonomy and Violence: Georges Sorel and the Problem of Liberalism.

Abstract: Georges Sorel (1847-1922) has a sulfurous reputation as a vitalist Marxist, whose writings on violence and myth opened the way to fascism. For many of his 20th century readers he came to stand for a politics of radicalism for its own sake. Although Sorel was not straightforwardly a liberal, his radicalism is intelligible only by recognizing as liberal his problematics, values, and even many of the textual resources on which he drew. Indeed his radicalism itself otherwise appears incoherent and thin, and we miss the most significant and useful pieces of his work. The French Third Republic as Sorel knew it defended basic freedoms and a degree of mass democratic participation, but profound political, economic, and religious divisions threatened to overwhelm its plural and liberal aspects. How to understand the genesis of Sorel’s radicalism out of the liberal nineteenth century? Sorel and his antirationalist defense of violence were not against the French Third Republic, but of it. Sorel’s critique of liberalism and rationalism continues to resonate today because he consciously shaped it to protect those values held most dear by liberals.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Charly Coleman (Columbia): 'The Economy of the Mysteries: Penance, the Eucharist, and the Proliferation of Sacramental Wealth in Early Modern France'

Charly Coleman is an assistant professor of history at Columbia University, where he teaches courses on early modern and modern Europe, as well as in the Core Curriculum. He received his Ph.D. in history at Stanford University. Before coming to Columbia, he taught at the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis. Coleman specializes in the history of eighteenth-century France, with a particular emphasis on the intersections between religion and Enlightenment thought. His first book, The Virtues of Abandon (Stanford University Press, 2014; awarded the 2016 Laurence Wylie Prize in French Cultural Studies), fundamentally recasts the French Enlightenment as a protracted struggle to fix the self’s relationship to property in its myriad forms. In so doing, it uncovers a wide-ranging, coherent, and influential culture of dispossession, the partisans of which fought to strip the self of its property, its personality, and even its very existence as an individual. Coleman has further elaborated the stakes of this anti-individualist history of the period in a series of articles and book chapters, including pieces for Modern Intellectual History, The Journal of Modern History, and The Cambridge Companion to the French Enlightenment. His most recent research has turned to the crucial role played by economic theology during the long eighteenth century in France, with an eye to revealing a distinctly Catholic ethic that animated the spirit of capitalism at its inception.

Abstract: My paper takes as its point of departure the seventeenth-century resurgence in the adoration of the Eucharist and its singularly productive elements, not only in theological and philosophical treatises, but also among lay confraternities, members of which were authorized to receive specific spiritual advantages, including plenary and partial indulgences. The Cartesian position, advanced by the Oratorian Jean Terrasson among others, reinforced Eucharistic associations with boundlessness, by characterizing the metamorphoses it implied as representative of the infinite power of God. An economic logic, I argue, underpinned such practices, which furnished the believer a means of cancelling the debt occasioned by sin through the inexhaustible font of grace accumulated by the labor of saints and administered by the Church. This Catholic ethic, pace Weber’s account of its Protestant counterpart, privileged the marvelous over the mundane, consumption over production, the pleasures of enjoyment over the rigors of delayed gratification.


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Peter Galison (Harvard / NHC Fellow) and Caroline Jones (MIT): 'How Images Obscure the Anthropocene, or, How Not to See'

Peter Galison is the Joseph Pellegrino University Professor of the History of Science and of Physics at Harvard University; Galison’s work explores the complex interaction between the three principal subcultures of physics–experimentation, instrumentation, and theory. His books include Image and Logic (1997), Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps (2003) and, with L. Daston, Objectivity (2007). With Robb Moss, he directed “Secrecy” (2008, 81 minutes) and “Containment” (2015, premiered at Full Frame), about the need to guard radioactive materials for the 10,000 year future. Galison is also greatly concerned with the impact of technology on the self, and how this influences science, policy, and development. He is now finishing a book, Building Crashing Thinking, about the back and forth between the self and modern technologies. In 2016, he established the Black Hole Initiative with colleagues in Astronomy, Physics, Mathematics, and Observational Astrophysics—and is now working on a film about knowledge, philosophy, and these strangest of all objects.

Caroline A. Jones is Professor in the History, Theory, Criticism section of the Department of Architecture at MIT. She studies modern and contemporary art, with a particular focus on its technological modes of production, distribution, and reception, and on its interface with science. Jones has also worked as a curator, recently with MIT’s List Visual Art Center: Sensorium (2006), Video Trajectories (2007), and Hans Haacke 1967 (2011). Her exhibitions and/or films have been shown at NY MoMA, SF MoMA, the Hirshhorn in DC, and the Hara Museum Tokyo, among other venues; her publications include Machine in the Studio: Constructing the Postwar American Artist (1996/98, winner of the Charles Eldredge prize), Picturing Science, Producing Art (co-edited, 1998), Sensorium: embodied experience, technology, and contemporary art (as editor, 2006), Eyesight Alone: Clement Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (2005/08), Experience: Culture, Cognition, and the Common Sense (co-edited, 2016), and The Global Work of Art (2016).On leave at the National Humanities Center for 2017-18, she is engaged in a collaboration with historian of science Peter Galison, researching patterns of occlusion and political contestations in what she calls “the anthropogenic image” of environmental disaster.

Abstract: Since the 1970s, activists have often assumed that pictures of environmental disaster would mobilize the public against ecological degradation. But there are deep-set patterns of occlusion and political contestation surrounding such images. When does the volunteer cleaning an oil-soaked bird on the shores of Prince William Sound in 1989 impede our capacity to understand the ecology, regulations, or the political economy of oil extraction and transport? What impact do the “ag-gag” laws seeded in the 1990s (with the follow-on 2002 “Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act” and its progeny) have on the legal status of citizens’ imagery from industrial animal facilities? How did communities struggle, technically, to make visible the unseen methane plumes from the 2015 Aliso Canyon blowout, and what were the political-epistemic results of their efforts? Under water, on the ground, and in the air, images proliferate; states and corporations attempt to control the visual narrative, even as activists and scientists rely on images as never before. Given the daunting literature on the Anthropocene, we tackle specific cases in which visual arguments were mustered, in order to offer some steps toward a theoretical understanding of how images have formed simultaneous regimes of obscurity and visibility in our times.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sarah Igo (Vanderbilt): 'Reflections on a Material History of Citizenship'

Sarah E. Igo is Associate Professor of History and Director of the Program in American Studies at Vanderbilt University, with appointments in Law, Political Science, Sociology, and Medicine, Health & Society. She is the author of the prize-winning The Averaged American: Surveys, Citizens and the Making of a Mass Public (2007), which was an Editor’s Choice selection of the New York Times and one of Slate’s Best Books of 2007, and the forthcoming The Known Citizen: A History of Privacy in Modern America (2018).

Abstract: My paper offers a foray into what I think of as a material and affective history of American citizenship by examining the career of the U.S. Social Security number: the now-familiar nine digits that came to be annexed to most Americans’ lives over the course of the twentieth century. I argue that the biography of the SSN from the 1930s onward offers us a window onto the ways Americans have envisioned the modern state and their own responsibilities to it. In the paper, I trace the specific role these numbers played in American political culture in the second half of the twentieth century, an era in which citizens’ attitudes toward the federal government shifted dramatically. By examining individuals’ material, political, and philosophical relationship to this particular identity document, I aim to illuminate the inner workings of civic feeling against a backdrop of global political and economic uncertainty. By pursuing the SSN, I contend, we can trace Americans’ changing attitudes toward bureaucracy and federal authority as well as the shaping power of identity practices and the unintended consequences (including insecurity) of the most successful social program in the modern United States.


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Claudia Marion Stemberger (Duke PhD Student): 'Writing Intellectual History as Art Historian: Contextual Meanings of Contingency in the Visual Arts'

Claudia Marion Stemberger currently works on her Ph.D. in Art History at Duke University, specializing in twentieth-century art in a global context. She has been trained internationally across several continents and languages. Her current interests focus on contextual meanings of contingency in art, as well as on methods in global modernism and global art histories. She has published “Postmodernity’s Vertigo: Chance and Increase of Contingency in Performance and Film” (ilinx 1, 2010, with Isabel Exner), and “South African Live Art and the Representation of its Residue” (Peter Lang, 2014). Her research has been supported by the Abner Kingman Fellowship at McGill University, Montréal, and she was a recipient of the International Postgraduate Fellowship by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research. Stemberger was a fellow of the Summer Academy by eikones at the University of Basel, and at the IFK / International Centre for Cultural Studies in Vienna.

Abstract: Since the 1990s, the idea of contingency has received increased scholarly attention. Among German-speaking academics, contingency has become a major research topic. In 2011, historian Peter Vogt published his comprehensive study on the conceptual and intellectual history of chance and contingency in the West, but did not include art historians, art critics, or artists. Intellectual history has frequently ignored visual arts perspectives on contingency. The research gap also reflects methodological divergence, given that the place of art history, as an intellectual history field, has remained unclear. Certain researchers have assigned art history a marginal role while others maintain it is integral. What does it mean to write intellectual history as an art historian at the present time? Aiming to identify contextual meanings of contingency in global twentieth-century art, my study considers implicit and explicit methodological strategies in art history and intellectual history, and has implications for interdisciplinary approaches in the humanities.


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Mia Bay (UPenn): 'Talking Back to Thomas Jefferson: African American Nationalism in the New Republic 1776 – 1808'

Mia Bay is Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. Her publications include To Tell the Truth Freely: The Life of Ida B. Wells (2009) and The White Image in the Black Mind: African-American Ideas about White People, 1830-1925 (2000). She is also the co-author (with Waldo Martin and Deborah Gray White of the textbook Freedom on My Mind: A History of African Americans with Documents (2014), and the editor of a couple of other works, the most recent of which is Race and Retail: Consumption Across the Color Line (2015), which she co-edited with Ann Fabian. Currently, she is at work on two new projects: a book examining the social history of segregated transportation and a study of African American views on Thomas Jefferson.

Abstract: This document is a draft of an opening chapter for a book of African American ideas about Thomas Jefferson from the American Revolution through to the post-emancipation era, entitled The Ambidexter Philosopher: Thomas Jefferson in Black Thought 1776-1877. Still very much a work in progress, it is designed to set the stage a study composed series of chronologically arranged chapters that review African American commentary on Jefferson in speeches, letters, books, pamphlets and other available testimony from this period. My aim book as whole to use these African American discussions of Jefferson to present an accessible discussion of the connections between early black struggles for freedom and civil rights and African American claims on American nationalism and citizenship. The project revisits the political history of early black thought by underscoring that pre-Civil War black freedom struggles first emerged within the changing political environment of a racially divided new nation and developed in dialogue with the party politics, the national political imaginary and the ideals of American political icons such as Thomas Jefferson.


Past Events

October 16, 2016
Judith Surkis
Colonial Literature, Law Reform, and the Crisis of Representation in Interwar Algeria

September 11, 2016
Tom Prendergast
The Sociological Staatsidee: Legal Education, the Theory of the State, and the Meaning of Austrian Multinationalism, 1885-1914

April 17, 2016
Sidgwick and The “General Presumption” Afforded By Evolution
Moral and political philosophy in Britain in the second half of the 19th century through the beginning of the 20th-century was a defining moment in the history modern philosophy whose legacy remains profound though underappreciated by too many contemporary analytical political philosophers from followers and critics of John Rawls to advocates of the “capability” approach to distributive justice such as Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum. And the same goes for English-speaking moral philosophers from Bernard Williams to Peter Singer. For instance, Rawls’ debts to Sidgwick have been ill-understood notwithstanding a few careful students of Sidgwick and Nussbaum has only recently recognized just how much her version of the “capability” approach reiterates Green’s moral and political theory. In order to appreciate just how extensive our contemporary philosophizing is less grand and unprecedented than we may think, we need to do far more than just familiarizing ourselves with arbitrarily-selected, disconnected pieces from 19th and 20th-century moral and political thought. Our philosophic past is typically an overlapping tapestry of discourse and the better we grasp its distinctive concerns, the better we will succeed in stimulating and rousing our contemporary conceptual thinking about philosophical issues plaguing us now.

April 3, 2016
Intellectual History Without Borders?
This paper will be drawn from my book-in-progress, American Intellectual History: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford). It will do a little “show and tell,” both pulling selections from the text and then highlighting the book’s approach to American thought as a history of border crossings. It proposes that intellectual historians can best apprehend American intellectual life at its various transfer points–between one cultural, national, or temporal setting and another; sacred belief and secular analysis; formal argument and emotional affirmation; and “highbrow” and “popular” culture. In addition, the paper will raise for discussion the challenges and rewards of this kind of “crossover” scholarship, which seeks to address the concerns of professional intellectual historians, the needs of students, and the interest of general readers.

February 21, 2016
David Hollinger, UC Berkeley
The Dispersion of Faith and the Thinning of the Social: Historiography in the Post-Religious Academy
American Jewish and American Protestant history both display “communalist” and “dispersionist” tendencies. The first focuses on the particular population that accepts the symbolic capital and institutional leadership of the community, the second the ways in which experiences within the community affects the larger history of the United States. “Communalists” are inclined to analyze historical developments in terms of their impact on the community’s survival; “dispersionists” are less likely to display “survivalist” concerns. Post-Protestant and Post-Jewish syndromes thus have much in common.

Dorothy Ross, Johns Hopkins University
The “thinning of the social,” attributed to the post-1970s rise of market logic and postmodernism, was actually set in motion during the long 1950s by the social science and modernist culture. Paul Lazarsfeld’s teaching at Columbia University and his Bureau of Applied Social Research shaped the language of public culture and policy, and C. Wright Mills made his “abstracted empiricism” an emblem of the postwar sociological imagination gone awry. In an ironic and revealing history, the Viennese born Austro-Marxist emerges as an exemplar of the postwar American social scientific liberalism.

February 7, 2016
The Limits of Empiricism and the Divergence of Liberty: Reflections on Two Decades of History in the Triangle

The Limits of Empiricism: The Utility of Theory in Historical Thought and Writing
Gabrielle M. Spiegel, Johns Hopkins University

Freedom East and West
Jerrold Seigel, New York University

December 6, 2015
Reflecting on Twenty Years of Intellectual History in the Triangle
This discussion, led by the coordinators of the Triangle Intellectual History Seminar, will provide an opportunity to reflect upon, and celebrate, the twentieth anniversary of the Triangle Intellectual History Seminar. Using a collection of recent articles as a jumping-off point, this seminar will provide a space to think collectively about the legacy and prospects of intellectual history as a discipline.

The Coordinators:
K. Steven Vincent, North Carolina State University
Malachi Hacohen, Duke University
Martin Miller, Duke University
James Chappel, Duke University
Emily Levine, University of North Carolina – Greensboro
Lloyd Kramer, University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill
Noah Strote, North Carolina State University
Anthony LaVopa, North Carolina State University

November 22, 2015
Samuel J. Kessler
This chapter focuses on Adolf Jellinek’s writings in Wissenschaft des Judentums. In the 1840s and 1850s, Jellinek published a series of critical studies focused on the complex history of rabbinical midrash. As Jellinek transitioned away from scholarship and into preaching, however, these Jewish texts provided him with a language for discussing how Judaism might retain its historic continuity but claim access to progressive values. By the 1860s, midrash had become one of Jellinek’s central motifs for linking traditional Jewish practice with modern European culture.
Samuel J. Kessler received his BA from New York University and MA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he is currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of Religious Studies. His dissertation, entitled “A New Shoot From the House of David: Adolf Jellinek and the Creation of the Modern Rabbinate,” traces the history and development of the role of the rabbi and the rabbi’s sermon in the modernization of Judaism during the nineteenth century

October 18, 2015
The Necessity of Identity — and the Dangers of a Wrong Concept
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.

September 20, 2015
Neo-Kantianism, Psychology, Sociology, and Politics in the Thought of Élie Halévy
The first meeting of the 2015-16 Triangle Intellectual History Seminar is Sunday, September 20, 2015. Steven Vincent, Professor of History at North Carolina State University will lead a discussion on “Neo-Kantianism, Psychology, Sociology, and Politics in the Thought of Élie Halévy.”

Élie Halévy (1870-1937) was a prominent French intellectual of the early Third Republic. This paper explores how his philosophical neo-Kantianism positioned him in relationship to other philosophical orientations of the era (to the “positivism” of Auguste Comte and to the “spiritualism” of Henri Bergson), to the psychological and sociological theories of the era (Emile Durkheim and others), and, finally, how it was related to his political stance.

April 12, 2015
Positive Uses of Negative Identity: Adorno among Others in the Twentieth Century
The next meeting of the 2014-2015 Triangle Intellectual History Seminar is Sunday, April 12, 2015. Eric Oberle, Assistant Professor of History in the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Humanities and Communications at Arizona State University will be leading a discussion on “Positive Uses of Negative Identity: Adorno among Others in the Twentieth Century.”

Description: The language of identity is, Theodor Adorno argued, always informed and grounded by its shadow: non-identity. What would happen if theory started not with an idealized concept of unitary agency, byt with a genealogy of unwanted, broken, fractured or coercive identity? Drawing on the works of Nietzsche, Simmel, Du Bois, Heidegger, Sartre, and Arendt, this talk situates Adorno and the Frankfurt School in a field of inquiry into the objective meaning of subjective alienation, epistemological dissonance, and alterity, considering what it means to ground social knowledge at once within and against the category of the Other.

Bio: Dr. Eric Oberle is an Assistant Professor of History at Arizona State University, and has a Ph.D. in History and the Humanities from Stanford. His research interests encompass the intellectual, political and social history of modernity, with emphasis on the traditions of critical theory, sociology, and the history of science. His current book project, Theodor Adorno and the Century of Negative Identity explores how the analysis of alterity and epistemological dissonance developed within Frankfurt School thought.

March 22, 2015
Twin Cities of Modernism: The Tangled Intellectual History of Vienna and Calcutta in the Age of Empire
The next meeting of the 2014-2015 Triangle Intellectual History Seminar is Sunday, March 22, 2015. Kris Manjapra, Assistant Professor of History at Tufts University will be leading a discussion on “Twin Cities of Modernism: The Tangled Intellectual History of Vienna and Calcutta in the Age of Empire.”

Description: Kris Manjapra explores a multi-sited approach to the study of transnational intellectual history. This paper studies the interrelation, friction, and entanglement that developed between two major, distant centers of twentieth century intellectual modernism. The paper argues that the apparent strangeness and peculiarity of German-speaking and Indian engagements from the 1880s-1950s actually serves to reveal deeper characteristics of modernist knowledge production, cutting across the colonial divide.

About: Kris Manjapra is associate professor of History, and program director of Colonialism Studies at Tufts University. He is the author of Age of Entanglement: German and Indian Intellectuals across Empire (2014); M.N. Roy: Marxism and Colonial Cosmopolitanism (2010) and co-editor of Cosmopolitan Thought Zones: South Asia and the Global Circulation of Ideas (2010).

February 8, 2015
Catholics, and the ‘Theory of Gender,’ and the Turn to the Human in France: A New Dreyfus Affair?
The next meeting of the 2014-2015 Triangle Intellectual History Seminar is Sunday, February 2, 2015. Camille Robcis, Assistant Professor of History at Cornell University will be leading a discussion on, “Catholics, and the ‘Theory of Gender,’ and the Turn to the Human in France: A New Dreyfus Affair?”

Description: This paper explores how the concept of gender has been received by the Catholic Church over the last three decades. Starting with the recent debates around gay marriage in France, Professor Robcis tries to understand why many Catholic thinkers and activists have invoked a ‘theory of gender’ as both the origin and the outcome of gay marriage and why they have turned to the concept of the human (in humanism and in anthropology) as an alternative model for organizing both the social and the sexual.

January 18, 2015
The Paradox of Modernity: Current Debates and Their Implications for the Seventeenth Century
The next meeting of the 2014-2015 Triangle Intellectual History Seminar is Sunday, January 18, 2015. William Reddy is William T. Laprade Professor of History and Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. Professor Reddy will be leading a discussion on the topic of “The Paradox of Modernity: Current Debates and Their Implications for the Seventeenth Century.” This is a joint meeting with the French History and Culture Seminar.

December 7, 2014
Forms, Dialectics, and the Healthy Community: Recovering the British Idealist Receptions of Plato
The next meeting of the 2014-2015 Triangle Intellectual History Seminar is Sunday, December 7. Professor Colin Tyler of the University of Hull is Visiting Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Wake Forest University. He will be leading a discussion on the topic, “Forms, Dialectics, and the Healthy Community: Recovering the British Idealist Reception of Plato.

Bio: Colin Tyler is Visiting Professor of Politics and International Affairs for the first semester of the 2014-15 session. In January 2015, he will return from sabbatical to a permanent post as (Full) Professor of Social and Political Thought, at the University of Hull, United Kingdom. He received his BA (Hons) Politics and Economics from the University of Reading, and an MA with Distinction in Political Philosophy (The Idea of Toleration) from the University of York, where he also received a DPhil in Politics in 1996. In 2008, he was awarded a second Master’s degree, this time, a MA with Distinction in The History of Political Discourse 1500 to 1800, from the Department of History at the University of Hull. Between 1997 and 2000, he was a Research Fellow at the Bentham Project at University College London (UCL), which was associated with both the Law and the History departments.

November 2, 2014
The Decline of the West: An American Story
The next seminar of the 2014-205 Triangle Intellectual History Seminar is Sunday, November 2. Michael Kimmage, Associate Professor of History at the Catholic University of America, will be leading a discussion on the topic, “The Decline of the West: An American Story.”

Description: This talk will address the subject of “Western culture” or “Western civilization” in its American context. It will examine the building up of “the West” in the first half of the twentieth century; the concept’s golden age in the 1940s and 1950’s; and its increasingly contested status in the final decades of the twentieth century. This talk will touch on the history of American academia, on American intellectual history and on American foreign policy.

Bio: Michael Kimmage is an associate professor of history at Catholic University. He is the author of In History’s Grip: Philip Roth’s Newark Trilogy (Stanford, 2012) and The Conservative Turn: Lionel Trilling, Whittaker Chambers and the Lessons of Anti-Communism (Harvard, 2009). He is also the translator of Wolfgang Koeppen’s travelogue, Journey through American (Berghahn, 2012).

October 5, 2014
Rethinking Race in the Colonial World
The next meeting of the 2014-2015 Triangle Intellectual History Seminar is Sunday, October 5. Jonathon Glassman, Professor in the Department of History at Northwestern University and a Fellow at the National Humanities Center this year, will be leading a discussion on the topic of “Rethinking Race in the Colonial World.”

Description: Is it possible or useful to use the concept of “race” when discussing ways of thinking that do not stem directly from Western ideas? Most studies of racial thought suggest not: the prevailing assumption is that the racialization of difference in places like Rwanda or Darfur has been the product of imported Western doctrines. This article, in contrast, argues that discourses of racial difference resulted from conversations that African intellectuals had with one another more than with colonial rulers or educators – conversations in which they drew on multiple intellectual traditions, including many that were inherited locally from the precolonial past. The article is drawn from a monograph that in turn will serve as the starting-point of my current project: a comparative study of racial thought that, although restricted to the African continent, will question conventional understandings of race, ethnicity, and nation in many parts of the world, including the West.

September 7, 2014
Liberalism in Empire: An Alternative History
The first meeting of the 2014-2015 Triangle Intellectual History Seminar is Sunday, September 7. Andrew Sartori, Associate Professor of History at New York University, will be leading a discussion of his paper, “Liberalism in Empire: An Alternative History,” described below.

Description: While the need for a history of liberalism that goes beyond its conventional European limits is well recognized, the agrarian backwaters of the British Empire might seem an unlikely place to start. Yet specifically liberal preoccupations with property and freedom evolved as central to agrarian policy and politics in colonial Bengal, as the generative crisis in understanding property’s role in the constitution of a liberal polity in the metropole intersected in Bengal with a new politics of peasant independence based on practices of commodity exchange. A section of liberal policy makers and agrarian leaders in colonial Bengal insisted that norms governing agrarian social relations be premised on the property-constituting powers of labor, thereby opening a new conceptual space for appeals to both political economy and the normative significance of property. It is conventional to see liberalism as traveling through the space of empire with the extension of colonial institutions and intellectual networks. My focus on the Lockeanism of agrarian discourses of property, however, allows readers to grasp how liberalism could serve as a normative framework for both a triumphant colonial capitalism and a critique of capitalism from the standpoint of peasant property.

May 4, 2014
America Teaches, Germania Learns’: Competition, Cooperation, and the University in Global Perspective
The next meeting of the Triangle Intellectual History Seminar is scheduled for Sunday, May 4. Our speaker, Professor Emily J. Levine is Assistant Professor of Modern European History at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She will lead a seminar on “‘America Teaches, Germania Learns’: Competition, Cooperation, and the University in Global Perspective.”

March 2, 2014
Thrones and Altars: Authoritarian Catholicism in the 1930s
The next meeting of the 2013-2014 Triangle Intellectual History Seminar is Sunday, March 2. James Chappel, Assistant Professor in the History Department at Duke University, will be leading a discussion on “Thrones and Altars: Authoritarian Catholicism in the 1930s,” described below.

Description: In this chapter from his forthcoming book The Struggle for Europe’s Soul: Catholicism and the Salvation of Democracy, 1920-1960, James Chappel explores the alliance between European Catholics and authoritarian regimes in the 1930s. Catholicism, like socialism and Fascism, provided a robust vision for European political and economic order, with its own social theories, labor unions, political parties, women’s movements, and more. Although it has been largely forgotten, it was just as successful as its socialist and Fascist competitors, if not more so. Catholic authoritarian movements, drawing on Catholic social ideology, came to power across the continent: from Portugal, Spain, and (Vichy) France in the West, to Hungary and Croatia in the East, to Austria and Slovakia in Central Europe. Despite this success, Catholicism has not been taken seriously as a political and social force, and the 1930s are still seen as a struggle between “Democracy” and “Fascism.” The chapter attempts to reintegrate Catholic theory and Catholic movements into our story of Europe’s 1930s. In addition to a fuller understanding of that tumultuous decade, this sets the stage for a fuller appreciation of the postwar moment, in which Christian Democratic parties swept to power across much of the continent.

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