Oxford Centre for Intellectual History Graduate Conference

The Oxford Centre for Intellectual History Graduate Conference will take place on Friday 31 May 2024, 9.00-16.00 UKT

The conference will be run as a hybrid event, with the opportunity for all attendees to join us online or in person at the University of Oxford. This event is an opportunity for graduate students to present their research and network with similar researchers at Oxford and other institutions.

This year’s theme is Methodology in Intellectual History, with a focus on the following topics:

1. Presentism in Intellectual History: In recent years, intellectual historians have increasingly engaged in ‘presentism’, which can refer to both the inclination to study the recent past (as opposed to earlier periods) and the tendency to interpret the past (however distant) in terms of the present. This has proven contentious. Some scholars have claimed that presentism does not merely risk anachronistic interpretations of the past; it also threatens the identity of intellectual history by undermining its distinctive concern with exploring unfamiliar subject-matter. Are these worries justified? We invite papers that consider the issue of presentism in intellectual history.

2. Intellectual History, Philosophy and Literature: Twentieth century methodological debates and the ‘linguistic turn’ of the 1960s oversaw a gradual shift within intellectual history, from the perception of ideas as universal concepts insulated from change and historical time, to linguistic representations grounded within particular, temporally-bound contexts. Insofar as the intellectual historian seeks to understand the movement of concepts and languages across time, where do we draw the line between intellectual history and philosophy? If all histories are narratives, to what extent should we consider historical reconstruction a creative or poetic practice? We invite reflections on the status of language and methods of interpreting historical consciousness within the humanities—particularly on the relationship between intellectual history, philosophy and/or literature.

3. Global Intellectual History (GIH): What kind of eurocentrism does/can GIH challenge, and what kind of methodology would accomplish this goal? Which historical actors matter in GIH, and why? How ought we account for exchanges (of ideas, books, people, etc.) that transcended borders and the power relations and practices of translation that come with them? Furthermore, does history guided by the term “global” risk reimposing the narrativised ‘inevitability’ of Western modernity on to other parts of the world? And does globality come at the expense of particular spatio-temporal contexts? We welcome papers that advance or critically engage with existing methodologies in GIH, including transnational and planetary intellectual history.

Our keynote speaker for this event will be Faisal Devji, Professor of Indian History at the University of Oxford, St. Antony’s College.

The deadline for abstract submissions is 28 April, 2024. Please submit via this form:

If you are interested in attending the conference, please complete this form: