Welcome to ISIH Announcements

Society updates and news of relevant publications, conferences, and events in the field of intellectual history will be announced here, as well as on our Facebook page.

Please note that it is possible to limit this news feed by clicking on ‘Select Category’ below.

If you would like to advertise your intellectual history programme, seminar series, upcoming conference or any other related event on the ISIH Announcements page, please use our Announcement Submission Form. Alternatively, you may download a PDF version of the form and return it by e-mail.

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50 Years of Keith Thomas’s Religion and the Decline of Magic, 3 September 2021

3 September 2021, 14:00-17:45 (BST)

This year sees the 50th anniversary of Sir Keith Thomas’s masterpiece, Religion and the Decline of Magic (1971), one of the most significant British historical monographs of the last century. This short conference will celebrate and reflect on Thomas’s achievement as well as publicise new interdisciplinary work on the history of magic and religion.

The event will be live streamed from All Souls College, Oxford. Due to a limit on numbers as a result of the pandemic, only a small audience will be invited to attend the conference in-person. Please register below to receive a link to the live stream.

Registrations close 2 September 2021, 15:00 (BST). Please register here.

Organised by Michelle Pfeffer (Magdalen College, University of Oxford), Jan Machielsen (Cardiff University), and Robin Briggs (All Souls College, University of Oxford)

Supported by All Souls College, the Oxford History Faculty, and the Past & Present Society.

Conference Schedule


Session 1: The Decline of Magic Today
Chair: Sir Noel Malcolm
Panellists: Robin Briggs, Chris Gosden, Michelle Pfeffer, Will Pooley, Laura Sangha, David Zeitlyn

Registrants will be sent the written papers for this roundtable a week in advance of the conference.


Session 2: The Legacy of Religion and the Decline of Magic
Chair: Paul Slack
Panellists: Michael Hunter, Alan Macfarlane, Jan Machielsen, Sophie Page, Alexandra Walsham


Session 3: Response from Sir Keith Thomas

(Images from The Folio Society’s 2012 edition of Religion and the Decline of Magic, illustrated by Grady McFerrin)

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CFP: ‘Projects and Projectors in the Early Modern and Enlightenment periods’ (c. 1640-1780)

In the Early Modern and Enlightenment periods the figure of the projector was as vital as it was common. Daniel Defoe famously nicknamed his era the “Projecting Age.” Decades earlier scholars were already commenting on the “rampant passion for schemes”. Projectors were inventors or entrepreneurs ‘who set out to gain the trust and backing of a powerful patron such as a ruler or potential investor, for what he claimed was a financially profitable and generally prestigious original venture which would yield practical benefits.’

Projects varied widely in character and scope and involved almost every type of venture: engineering, mining, ameliorating the condition of the poor and infirm, banking, building, fabricating wonderous machines, and turning base metals into precious ones. More scholarly projects included reforms (or creation) of institutions of higher learning and scientific academies, invariably through substantial outlay of public capital. Projectors also offered rulers solutions for intractable problems, promising these would generate wealth and cure social ills. In Germany, projectors played an instrumental role in the country’s emergent cameralism.

Many of these projects miscarried or proved money-losing ventures. Combining the quest for personal profit with expressed concern for the public good, projectors were often treated with suspicion. The projector emerged as one of the age’s most ambiguous figures: This “homo novus” was a “liminal individual” whose life embodied the “fluid cultural moment when ‘science’ had not yet achieved its preeminent modern position as the sole legitimator of truth, but instead had to compete with a number of other intellectual pursuits”.

We invite proposals for a volume on either projectors and/or projects, edited by Audrey Borowski (University of Oxford) and Mordechai Feingold (Caltech), to be published by Brill.

Topics can cover (but are not limited to):

§ The projector in his milieu/context

§ The strategies of the projector

§ The projector between different worlds/in his multiple identities (courtier, scholar, political agent etc.)

§ Competition between projectors

§ Particular case studies of projectors

§ Projectors and alchemy

§ Projectors and cameralism

§ Projectors and learning/scholarship/philosophy

§ The nexus between commercialism and scientific and technological knowledge

§ The state/court and projecting/projectors

§ Criticism of projectors and attitudes towards projecting

Abstracts should be sent to Audrey Borowski (audrey.borowski@queens.ox.ac.uk) and Mordechai Feingold (feingold@caltech.edu) by 31 December 2021. Final papers would be expected by 1 June 2022.

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#ISIH2021 Conference programme available

Coerced Labour in the Early Modern World (1500-1800): Definitions, Justifications and Resistances

7 – 8 September 2021, online

The International Society for Intellectual History (ISIH) is pleased to present this conference as part of a series of online events designed by early career researchers, for early career researchers. Its main objective is to provide the community of intellectual historians from across the world with a forum for discussion, and to give them the opportunity to present their research in these complicated times. In the midst of the Covid pandemic and related economic instabilities, this conference aims to promote a global reflection on the different forms of exploitation that emerged during the early modern period.

The ISIH would also like to announce that the Annual General Meeting of the Society will be held during the conference, at 11:30am (CET) on 8 September.

The programme is available to view in the above document.

Registration for #ISIH2021 is now open and can be accessed via Google Forms. Registrations close 6 September 2021, 12:00 (CET).

Organised by Giovanni Lista.

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CFP: 7th Derrida Today Conference

13-16 June 2022

CFP closes 1 November 2021

The Derrida Today Conference will focus on the ongoing value of Derrida’s work and deconstruction as well as the political, ethical, cultural, artistic, and public debates and philosophical futures that confront us. The conference will be broadly interdisciplinary and invites contributions from a range of academic, disciplinary, and cultural contexts. We will accept papers and panel proposals from scholars, academics, and postgraduates on any aspect of Derrida’s work, or deconstruction, in relation to various topics as well as contemporary issues. While the conference welcomes contributions on diverse topics and from any discipline in relation to Derrida’s work and deconstruction, it is particularly interested in discussions exploring the concept of “democracy ” especially in light of the 6th January storming of the Capitol in the USA, and consequences of the current COVID pandemic.

For the full details please see: http://derridatoday.com.au 

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CFP: 2022 John Locke Conference

21–23 June 2022

American University in Bulgaria, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

Keynote Speakers:

Sorana Corneanu (University of Bucharest)

Shelley Weinberg (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)


Diego Lucci (American University in Bulgaria)

The 2022 John Locke Conference will gather scholars interested in any aspect of Locke’s oeuvre, with the purpose of encouraging research on this important author and promoting interaction between experts in different disciplines, such as philosophy, theology, education, political theory, intellectual history, and economic thought.

Paper proposals concerning any aspect of Locke’s thought, his influences, and his impact are welcome. Paper proposals shall be submitted by the deadline of December 31, 2021 via email to Prof. Diego Lucci at dlucci@aubg.edu. For more details, see the full Call for Papers.

The ISIH is proud to endorse this event.

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History of Knowledge Lecture, postponed until Spring 2022

Please note that this event has been postponed.

On Friday, 25 JuneThe Philosophical Café invites you to join us in the discussion ‘What is History of Knowledge?’ with Sven Dupré (Utrecht), at 6pm BST (UK), 7pm CET (Central Europe), 8pm EET (Eastern Europe), 1pm Eastern (US), 10am Pacific (US)

Sven will be discussing the framework of the History of Knowledge as well as the Journal of the History of Knowledge, where he is editor. The discussion will be hosted by Jo Hedesan and Dana Jalobeanu.

The event will take place via Zoom and will also be streamed live on YouTube at https://youtu.be/AEiev0JObrQ. A trailer will be available on our YouTube channel in the upcoming days, at https://www.youtube.com/c/Cafeneauafilosofica (to receive notifications from YouTube please subscribe to the channel).   

If you want to join us via Zoom, please write for a link at cafeneauafilosofica@gmail.com.

For those of you who participated in our previous meetings, please note that it is the same link as before. If you plan to attend, please try to arrive 15-20 minutes before the meeting starts.

The Philosophical Café (Cafeneaua filosofica) is a weekly online discussion taking place on Zoom and YouTube. It is a component of the Philosophy after Dark framework, which is an invitation to dialogue, and an attempt to go beyond the format of traditional academic events, in search of new ways to bring philosophy to the general public. Join us in the debate!

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CFP: Coerced Labour in the Early Modern World (1500-1800): Definitions, Justifications and Resistances

Coerced Labour in the Early Modern World (1500-1800): Definitions, Justifications and Resistances

6 – 8 September 2021, online

The International Society for Intellectual History is pleased to announce our 2021 conference: Coerced Labour in the Early Modern World (1500-1800), which will take place online from 6 – 8 September 2021.

From the ancient world to the present day, different practices of coerced labor have constituted an intrinsic feature of human societies. According to the latest figures, up to 40 million people worldwide currently live under a regime of imposed work. It is therefore for good reason that the issue has continued to occupy a central place in public debates aimed at reshaping the current market dynamics. Various forms of modern slavery, forced labor and human trafficking appear to be a structural part of the neoliberalist model, and have been dramatically reinforced by the interconnected, consecutive global economic crises of the last decades. Mass migrations to supply cheap manpower often expose individuals to conditions of reduced social and civil rights, which are compounded by cultural differences and the scarce implementation of the rule of law. More recently, the Covid-19 pandemic likewise engendered a feverish rhetoric of productivity, underpinned by nationalist justifications of the curtailing of individual rights in the name of financial stability and the common good.

While systems of exploitation have been the constant object of scholarship in several historical disciplines, their multifaceted conceptual patterns often remain undefined, and demand further academic attention at this historical juncture. The renewed importance of forced labor in contemporary discussions belies a limited understanding of the roots of its many historical manifestations. The present conference therefore aims to explore how different modes of compelled labor were expressed, advocated or opposed across the early modern period in their historical, cultural and social contexts. We wish to keep a wide theoretical framework, in order to promote a general reflection involving as many fields of intellectual history as possible. We accordingly welcome the reconstruction of philosophical arguments in different contexts (including national, comparative, imperial, colonial and global histories), revolving around one or more typologies of unfree labor (including domestic serfdom, corvée labor, indentured servitude and chattel slavery) and involving all forms of discourses and traditions of thought (including political, legal, religious and economic).

Abstracts due 30 June 2021.

For the full CFP, please see the conference webpage.

Conference Committee: Giovanni Lista, Shiru Lim, and Elias Buchetmann.

For more details, see the conference webpage.

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CFP: New ISIH Seminar Series, Women in Intellectual History

The International Society for Intellectual History is pleased to announce a Call for Papers for our new seminar series, Women in Intellectual History, which will take place Autumn/Winter 2021.

Women thinkers and their writings are still underrepresented in the discipline of intellectual history. Despite decades-long efforts at canon-busting, research agendas and teaching curricula alike attest that much work remains to be done to counteract the bias of gendered historiographies. As a prominent meeting place for practitioners of the discipline in all stages of their careers and from various parts of the world, ISIH provides an ideal forum for the discussion of recent work in this crucial area of research.

Through a series of online meetings in autumn and winter 2021, featuring selected presentations and commentary followed by discussion, early career researchers active in the field of women’s intellectual history will be able to connect with each other and with senior scholars with matching expertise. Submissions from a broad range of specialisations—including the history of social, political, legal and economic thought, literary history, the history of philosophy, and the history of science—and across historical periods and geographical boundaries are encouraged.

If you are an early career researcher and would like to participate in this seminar by giving a paper, please send an abstract (max. 300 words) and a short bio to elias.buchetmann@eui.eu by 23 June 2021.

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Bayle Lecture at Princeton

Dmitri Levitin, Why did Pierre Bayle believe in Virtuous Atheists? A Critique of Pure Reason “avant la lettre”

Wednesday, 12 May at 12:00pm EST

Pierre Bayle’s claims about the possibility of a society of virtuous atheists are one of the most famous ideas produced in Europe in the decades around 1700. More generally, Bayle’s intentions have been the subject of profound historiographical debate, even generating the idea of an insoluble ‘Bayle Enigma’. This talk will give a completely new account of Bayle’s thought, based on a reading and contextualisation of everything he ever wrote.

Dmitri Levitin is a Research Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. He works on the history of knowledge between 1500 and 1850. In 2016, he was awarded inaugural Leszek Kołakowski Prize in intellectual history. His next book, The Kingdom of Darkness: Bayle, Newton, and the Emancipation of the European Mind from Philosophy will be published by Cambridge University Press later this year.

The talk will be chaired by Rhodri Lewis, Department of English.

For further information, and to register for the Zoom link, click here.

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Winner Announcement for the British Journal for the History of Philosophy Awards Best Article Prize

The British Journal for the History of Philosophy has awarded the 2020 Rogers Prize—its annual prize for the best article it publishes—to Khaled El-Rouayheb (Harvard) for his paper ‘The liar paradox in fifteenth-century Shiraz: the exchange between Ṣadr al-Dīn al-Dashtakī and Jalāl al-Dīn al-Dawānī’ (volume 28, issue 2).

This Prize, awarded for the first time in 2012, was established in honour of Prof. John Rogers, the Founding Editor of the journal. It is worth £1000, and will be announced in the next issue of the journal.

The runner-up for the prize is Ursula Renz (Graz) for her paper ‘Cassirer’s enlightenment: on philosophy and the ‘Denkform’ of reason’ (volume 28, issue 3).

Congratulations to them both!

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  • #ISIH2021 Conference

    #ISIH2021 Conference

    #ISIH2021 6 – 8 September 2021, to be held online. Click here for the newly released CFP!