ISIH2018 Panel: Third Paper Sought

ISIH2018 Panel: Third Paper Sought

The body politic and its boundaries in late medieval and early modern political literature

The metaphor of the “body politic” is probably one of the most common and widespread metaphors in political literature (Struve 1978; Briguglia 2006; Archambault 1967). It allowed political theorists to strike the imagination of their contemporaries with the most vivid of images: that of the human body as an exemplary model of proportion and harmony (Nederman 2000, 2005; Le Goff 1989; Shogimen 2007, 2008; Rigby 2013). The body supposedly displays the right configuration of disparate components and organs, exhibits the necessary hierarchy between its parts, as well as opens the possibility of a regulated collaboration and solidarity between the plurality of its members within the unity of the body. The vast array of pathologies and diseases is a platform for an exciting interchange between political ideas and medical views. Diseases are always a powerful means to decry a lack of order and reflect upon corruption. The literature on the broken or monstrous body, the illness of society or various healing devices and practices are therefore illustrative of the fruitfulness of the metaphor of the body politic and its ability to think about a just society in terms of health and illness (Harris 1998).

But the political body is also a great imaginary device to think about boundaries, liminality and passage with the exterior world as well as within itself. The crucial value for the medieval and the early modern polity is unity – there was no bigger threat to a state than external threat and internal dissension, which in both cases sowed the seeds for decay and destruction (Blumenfeld-Kosinski 1999). Each society defines itself through the inclusion of its members, that is the exclusion of all undesirables immediately turned into social and political outcasts. Concord and dissent are therefore great producers of boundaries. The polluted “other” has to be cast out of the “body politic”; the member contaminated had to be removed or treated. In the metaphor of the body politic, both the external boundaries as well as the internal ones are at stake. The external or internal boundaries, such as the skin itself, are more porous than it seems, and occasionally, they are often crossed, transgressed or “liquefied” (Hochner 2012).

The proposed panel intends to address the place and significance of boundaries of the “body politic” in late medieval and early modern political literature. By examining a series of case studies, we hope to scrutinize issues of inclusion and exclusion, harmony and chaos, order and fluidity, closure and passage and how the prevalent metaphor of the body politic facilitated a set of certain values, solidarity, loyalty, social justice, purity or charity while making others either odd or impossible.

Interested persons should contact Nicole Hochner (


Posted in Conferences and Workshops | Comments closed
  • News Categories

CfP: Ephemeral Exhibition Spaces (1750-1918)

CfP: Ephemeral Exhibition Spaces (1750-1918)

16-17 March 2018, University of Geneva

During the last decades of the Ancien Régime and throughout the long nineteenth century, people in Europe marvelled at absent worlds or past events that were reenacted visually or mentally in a variety of ephemeral exhibition spaces, like temporal museums, exhibits, (private) cabinets and, most strikingly, panoramic theaters and dioramic constructions. The latter installations or decors visually imitated reality, rather than represent it, like art would do, and with their illusory optical effects they were very popular with the big audience. They were however also criticised by those who stressed the imaginative, mental nature of vivification against forms of visual mimicry. From the very outset, reenactment in these spaces comes forward as an ambiguous, multifaceted and conflictive strategy.

In the new public and private spaces of the nineteenth century, ephemeral exhibition spaces or spaces with an exhibitional dimension par excellence fitted more encompassing epistemological and experiential strategies of reenactment. Within a wide scope of cultural practices, they provided new spatial frameworks of understanding and experiencing reality, of imagining, of identification and control. It is however still a matter of debate how the epistemological, visual and experiential dimensions of re-enactment interrelated, conflicted and coincided in these spaces. Reenactment in ephemeral exhibition spaces was caught between visual and mental strategies, between material tangibility and imagination. Reenactment in these spaces was also at the same time a tool of (scientific) knowledge and of subjective experience. Imagination could in this context strongly relate to the sensation of the uncanny, to aesthetic rapture, to (ideological and political) identification and to personal memory or even, in particular cases, to solipsist isolation. These spaces, finally, precisely because of their exhibitional nature, are also revealing of a dynamic of control, of voyeurism, of a problematic dealing with otherness, difference and absence, of people, of cultures or of the past.

Our symposium intends to discuss a wide variety of ephemeral exhibition spaces or spaces with a distinctively exhibitional dimension, such as for example dépôts, derelict gardens, ruins, boudoirs, museums, exhibits, private interiors, cabinets, antique stores… against a broad cultural background and treated from various interdisciplinary angles within the humanities, including cultural history, history of art, literary studies and comparative literature, intellectual history, material culture studies, museum studies and others.

We particularly, but certainly not exclusively, welcome papers, either in English or in French, on the following topics:

  • Ambiguous, multifunctional, liminal or hybrid spaces, in-between spaces, spaces between public and private uses, as well as the cultural practices they are connected with;
  • Imagery spaces, for example in written or visual sources (literature, catalogues, guides, travel literature, letters, art, images etc.); or
  • Material spaces that are able to stage the role of the imaginary in the construction of cultural practices;
  • Mediating spaces that worked as catalysts for interaction and interrelation between a number of categories such as gender and social classes.

Proposals (maximum 250 words) have to be sent to Camilla Murgia ( and Dominique Bauer ( by December 1, 2017. Those who submit proposals will be notified of their acceptance by December 20.


Posted in Calls for Papers | Comments closed

Jobs: Full professor in Modern History (19th-20th century)

Jobs: Full professor in Modern History (19th-20th century)

Applications Due: 13 November 2017

Public competition for the recruitment of one Full Professor, at the Scuola Normale Superiore (Pisa, Italy)

The applicant will be expected to: teach students within academic discipline of Contemporary History (M-STO/04) in the Scuola’s ordinary and specialization courses and in the other didactic activities that the Scuola may from time to time organise in accordance with the statute of the Scuola, within annual organisation; supervision and coordination of research groups in the field of the history of culture and contemporary society (XIX-XX centuries). He/She will tutor and supervise PhD thesis, organise seminars and conferences and coordinate research groups in national and international projects. Finally, he/she will carry out autonomous research activities in the field of the history of culture and contemporary society (XIX-XX centuries).

Application deadline: the application must be received by 13th November, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. at the Scuola Normale Superiore

For further information, please see the website.


Posted in Jobs | Comments closed

CfP: Mediterranean Europe(s): Images and Ideas of Europe from the Mediterranean Shores

CfP: Mediterranean Europe(s): Images and Ideas of Europe from the Mediterranean Shores (9th Annual Symposium of the Research Network on the History of the Idea of Europe)

4-6 July 2018, Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici – Naples

The economic crisis of the late 2000s, the growing Euroscepticism, and the refugee crisis have recently highlighted the geo-political and geo-cultural centrality of the Mediterranean in any issue concerning Europe.

Within the increasingly important field of Mediterranean Studies, the boundaries of the Mediterranean world(s) have been radically questioned and problematized, leading to new perspectives offering an alternative to occidentalist and Eurocentric narratives. On the one hand, the emergence of new trans-Mediterranean historical approaches – somehow anticipated in the works of Fernand Braudel, Edgar Morin, Predrag Matvejević, Franco Cassano and now re-thought by Maurizio Isabella and Kostantina Zanou – has moved the focus of cultural and intellectual historians from Europe as the place of civilization and modernity to the Mediterranean as a place where lives are shared and values are defined within a multiplicity of loyalties and belongings. On the other hand, European Studies have recently stressed the ambiguity of the geo-cultural polarization between Northern and Southern and Atlantic and Mediterranean Europe(s). Among others, Roberto Dainotto and Maurizio Viroli have offered a problematized vision of Europe that implies the concomitant rejection and acceptance of the Mediterranean.

According to Lucien Febvre, the essence of Europe was its blending of the Northern/Atlantic and the Southern/Mediterranean cultural elements. On the basis of such a notion, it is useful to re-investigate the Mediterranean as a region at once inside and outside of Europe, accepting that contours are, at best, protean. The aim of this international and interdisciplinary conference, organised by the Research Network on the History of the Idea of Europe and hosted by the Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici, is to bring together cultural and intellectual historians, philosophers, anthropologists, as well as scholars of the arts and literature, and to try to connect more firmly European and Mediterranean studies to shed new light on the place and the role of the Mediterranean in shaping images, ideas, and discourses about Europe from the eighteenth century onwards.

Topics might include – but are by no means limited to:

  • The Mediterranean: a bridge or a border between Europe and its south?
  • The place of the Mediterranean in the history of the ideas of Europe
  • The North of the Mediterranean world – Southern Europe?
  • Orientalising the Southern shores of the Mediterranean and creating Europe
  • Europe, the Mediterranean and religion
  • Diasporas, migrations and European identities
  • Thinking Mediterranean Europe (e.g. Montesquieu, Hegel, De Stäel, Chevalier, Amari, Valéry, Braudel, Unamuno, Chabod, Camus, etc.)

Confirmed keynote speakers will be Prof. Roberto Dainotto (Duke University) and Prof. Konstantina Zanou (Columbia University).

If you would like to present a paper (15 minutes) or organise a panel (3/4 speakers), please send an abstract (max. 300 words in English) with a title and a short biography by 27 December 2017 to Dr Fernanda Gallo (, Prof Vittorio Dini (, or Dr Matthew D’Auria ( Please note that the working language will be English. There will be no fees for participating. A limited number of travel grants offered by the Istituto Italiano Studi Filosofici will be available with preference given to non-tenured scholars.

Posted in Calls for Papers | Comments closed

CfP: Neo-Latin Scholarship on the Slavs

CfP: Neo-Latin Scholarship on the Slavs

Conference Dates: 5-7 December 2018

An international conference organised by the Ján Stanislav Institute of Slavistics of the Slovak Academy of Science to be held in Bratislava on 5-7 December 2018. Almost all branches of modern science and scholarship, including humanities, can trace their existence back to at least early modern times when Latin was a common medium of European erudition. Yet, present-day researchers in individual disciplines are largely unaware of the existence of early modern Latin scholarship related to their respective fields of study.

This conference aims to explore the rich corpus of Neo-Latin scholarly texts written about the Slavs, thereby intending to throw light on the early stages of what later became established as Slavistics or Slavonic Studies. We also hope to bring closer together researchers from the fields of Slavistics and Neo-Latin Studies, a combination which we believe carries great potential for future research in both disciplines.

We welcome papers of twenty to thirty minutes in English, German or Latin concerning early modern Latin scholarship on the history, philology, mythology, ethnography, geography, etc., of the Slavs. Publication of a collection of essays based on the conference proceedings is envisaged in 2020. Please send your proposal of ca.250 words and a very short biographical note to Dr Svorad Zavarský ( no later than 15 December 2017. All authors will be notified by the end of 2017.

Submission deadline: 15 December 2017.

For further details please see the conference website.


Posted in Calls for Papers | Comments closed

New Book: Victorian Jesus

Victorian Jesus: J.R. Seeley, Religion, and the Cultural Significance of Anonymity

Ian Hesketh (UTP, 2017)

Ecce Homo: A Survey in the Life and Work of Jesus Christ, published anonymously in 1865, alarmed some readers and delighted others by its presentation of a humanitarian view of Christ and early Christian history. Victorian Jesus explores the relationship between historian J. R. Seeley and his publisher Alexander Macmillan as they sought to keep Seeley’s authorship a secret while also trying to exploit the public interest.

Ian Hesketh highlights how Ecce Homo’s reception encapsulates how Victorians came to terms with rapidly changing religious views in the second half of the nineteenth century. Hesketh critically examines Seeley’s career and public image, and the publication and reception of his controversial work. Readers and commentators sought to discover the author’s identity in order to uncover the hidden meaning of the book, and this engendered a lively debate about the ethics of anonymous publishing. In Victorian Jesus, Ian Hesketh argues for the centrality of this moment in the history of anonymity in book and periodical publishing throughout the century.

Published by University of Toronto Press, 2017.


Posted in Books | Comments closed

Charles Schmitt Prize 2018

As the result of generous donations from an anonymous donor and our publisher (Routledge), the International Society for Intellectual History is offering, on an annual basis, a prize to honour the contribution of Charles B. Schmitt (1933-1986) to intellectual history.

The prize is £250, plus £100 worth of Routledge books, and a year’s free membership of the ISIH with a subscription to the Society’s quarterly journal Intellectual History Review. The paper awarded the prize will also be published in the Intellectual History Review.

Submissions will be accepted in any area of intellectual history, broadly construed, 1500 to the present, including the historiography of intellectual history. Because it is a condition of the award that the paper awarded the prize will be published by IHR, submissions should not have been accepted for publication elsewhere, or exceed 9,000 words (including footnotes). Eligibility is restricted to doctoral students and those who have submitted their PhD within two years of the closing date for the prize.

The paper should be forwarded as an e-mail attachment in Microsoft Word format to and to The e-mail itself should state that the paper is being entered for the prize, and should confirm eligibility at the time of submission, as well as availability of the paper for publication.

The closing date for the prize is 31 December 2017, and an announcement of the award will be made by the 1 March 2018.


Posted in Prizes, Society Updates | Comments closed

New Book: The First of the Modern Ottomans

The First of the Modern Ottomans: The Intellectual History of Ahmed Vâsıf 

By Ethan L. Menchinge (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

The First of the Modern Ottomans blends biography with intellectual history. On the one hand, it is the story of an Ottoman life – the life of the scribe, ambassador, and prolific historian Ahmed Vâsıf (ca. 1735-1806), a man who improbably rose from obscurity in Baghdad to travel the empire, fight its wars, advise its sultans, and, in time, write its history. As a full-scale biography, the book is a rarity for the field of Ottoman history and reconstructs Vâsıf’s life, career, and opinions through meticulous research in both Ottoman and European sources. On the other hand, The First of the Modern Ottomans is also one of the first detailed intellectual studies of the early modern Ottoman Empire. Weaving together Vâsıf’s life and thought with the larger intellectual currents of his day – especially at the court of Sultan Selim III in Istanbul – it explores central debates among the Ottoman ruling elite over Europe, political reform, war and peace, justice, and the empire’s renewal. Vâsıf’s life reveals a vital response to the empire’s challenges at the turn of the nineteenth century – one that was novel and deeply enmeshed in Islamic philosophy, ethics, and statecraft.

For more information, please see CUP’s webpage.


Posted in Books | Comments closed

New Oxford Francis Bacon Website

New Oxford Francis Bacon Website

The Oxford Francis Bacon critical edition has a new website for its project to complete a 15-volume critical edition of the works of Francis Bacon (1561-1626), the Elizabethan-Jacobean lawyer, natural philosopher, and statesman. The website includes details of the contents of each volume, published and planned, as well as the official dates and short titles of every work written by Bacon. There is also a searchable bibliography of secondary publications on Bacon’s life and thought, currently including 1,100 entries, which the project intends to grow in the coming years.

For more details, see


Posted in Other, Websites | Comments closed

Registration Open: Early Modern Civil Religion Workshop

Registration Open: Early Modern Civil Religion Workshop

14 September 2017, Newcastle University

This one-day workshop proposes to open a discussion into civil religion in early modernity on its own terms, rather than as a subsect of existing scholarly narratives. It seeks to bring together scholars from different disciplinary spheres in order to encourage reflection on this notion of ‘civil religion,’ and to construct an understanding of its specific contribution to its intellectual and cultural context.

Speakers include: Mark Goldie (Cambridge) and Luisa Simonutti (Istituto per la storia del pensiero filosofico e scientifico moderno).

The Workshop will begin at 11 am, in Seminar Room 2.22, The Research Beehive, Newcastle University. If you would like to attend, please email by Friday 8th September. There is no registration fee for this event. Please indicate when registering if you would like to attend the conference dinner.

For further information, please see the conference website.


Posted in Conferences and Workshops | Comments closed