Triangle Intellectual History Seminar

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.





2020 – 2021 Seminar Dates and Speakers

Fall Semester

  • Sunday, September 13, 5:00-7:00PM (ET)

Anthony La Vopa, North Carolina State University: Enlightenment Meanings: Essays in a Social History of Ideas

Anthony La Vopa is professor emeritus of History at North Carolina State University. Scholar of the Enlightenment, his work focuses on both ideas and society, and in this sense he might also be labeled as a social historian of ideas, with a major interest in intellectual biography and in historiography. Among his major publications are Grace, Talent, and Merit: Poor Students, Clerical Careers, and Professional Ideology in Eighteenth-Century Germany and Fichte: The Self and the Calling of Philosophy, 1762-1799. With Lawrence E. Klein, he is co-editor of Enthusiasm and Enlightenment in Europe, 1650-1850. La Vopa is also co-editor of the journal Modern Intellectual History and the global book series “Palgrave/Macmillan Studies in Intellectual and Cultural History.”


  • Sunday, October 25, 5:00-7:00PM (ET)

John Harpham, University of Chicago: The Causes of Complexion


John Harpham is a Junior Fellow in the Harper-Schmidt Society of Fellows at the University of Chicago. He received his BA from Duke University and more recently received his PhD from the Department of Government at Harvard University. His dissertation examined the intellectual origins of American slavery in early-modern English culture. Although trained as an historian of political thought, he has broad interests in the history of slavery in the Atlantic world; and his work is in part an attempt to establish that these two fields are more closely connected than has been understood. His book manuscript is an expanded version of his dissertation, and the work that he will present at the Intellectual History Seminar is the fifth chapter of this manuscript.

  • Sunday, November 15, 12:00-2:00PM (ET)

Iain Stewart, University College London: What is Cold War Liberalism?


Iain Stewart teaches modern European history at University College London. He is the author of Raymond Aron and Liberal Thought in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2020) and the co-editor, with Stephen W. Sawyer, of In Search of the Liberal Moment: Democracy, Anti-Totalitarianism and Intellectual Politics in France since 1950 (Palgrave, 2016).

  • Sunday, December 13, 5:00-7:00PM (ET)

Durba Mitra, Harvard University: “Surplus Woman”: Female Sexuality and the Concept of Endogany


Durba Mitra is Assistant Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality and Carol K. Pforzheimer Assistant Professor at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. Mitra works at the intersection of feminist and queer studies. Her research and teaching focus on the history of sexuality, the history of science and epistemology, and gender and feminist thought in South Asia and the colonial and postcolonial world.

To register, please contact Jeremy Buotte (jeremy.buotte@duke.edu)

Spring Semester

Future Sessions To Be Advertised Soon