4–6 September 2023, University of Edinburgh

Edinburgh (from Salisbury Crags). William Crozier. National Galleries of Scotland. Purchased 1942.

Keynotes: Anna Becker (Aarhus University), Dmitri Levitin (All Souls College/Caltech), Silvia Sebastiani (EHESS, Paris), Colin Kidd (University of St Andrews)

The International Society for Intellectual History (ISIH) is pleased to announce a call for papers for its annual conference, which will take place at the University of Edinburgh (UK) from 4 to 6 September 2023. The theme of the conference is ‘Crisis and Change in Intellectual History since c. 1450’.

It is common to characterise the present age as one of ‘crisis’, whether this is a crisis of democracy, capitalism, liberalism, the natural environment, conventional standards of factbased truth, or another feature of the modern world that had previously seemed secure. The Greek term krisis literally means a moment of decision, or turning point. ‘Crisis’ therefore is often believed to precede, and to precipitate change.

It is not surprising then that ‘crisis’ has been widely used by historians as a means of explaining intellectual change in the past. The term features in the titles of works ranging from Paul Hazard’s famous La Crise de la conscience européenne of 1935, to Reinhard Koselleck’s Kritik und Krise of 1959, and John Burrow’s The Crisis of Reason, published in 2000.

Participants in the conference are encouraged to explore the meaning and relevance of ‘crisis’ in relation to any topic in intellectual history since c. 1450. No particular definition of ‘crisis’ will be assumed. The term should be taken in its broadest possible sense. Papers may focus on historical debates about crisis, or on crisis as an interpretative tool to account for intellectual change. Participants may also wish to examine alternatives to ‘crisis’ as an explanation for intellectual change.

Possible themes for papers include, but are not restricted to:

  • Political crisis as a catalyst for intellectual change
  • Crisis and histories of knowledge
  • Crises of expertise in history
  • Religious crisis and conflict
  • Economic crises
  • Social change conceptualised as crisis
  • The history of cultural crises
  • Uses of the term ‘crisis’ in writings on intellectual history
  • Histories of responses to real or perceived crises
  • Environmental and climate crisis
  • Institutional crises as catalysts for intellectual change
  • Crises of intellectual disciplines
  • Alternatives to crisis as an explanation for intellectual change

The call for papers is now closed.

To register for the conference, please follow this link. Information regarding accommodation and lunches will be available soon.