Welcome to the blog of the Journal of the History of Ideas. We are excited to bring together today’s varied, burgeoning conversations in the field of intellectual history, broadly conceived. The JHI‘s founder, Arthur Lovejoy, and his successors have shown intellectual history to be ecumenical and expansive by nature. As per the Journal, intellectual history broadly concerns the histories of philosophy, of literature and the arts, of the natural and social sciences, of religion, of political thought, of the practice of scholarship, and of books and their readers. This larger notion encompasses other fields; indeed, intellectual history necessarily borders cultural history and encourages scholarship bridging several domains and practices. Similarly, the JHI has always insisted upon the widest regional, chronological, and methodological range of interests.
This makes for a hard act for a blog to follow. Yet such broader discussions merit further reflection in ways a blog is well-equipped to carry out: covering events and field developments as they happen, and providing perspective from researchers like ourselves who are just beginning their careers as intellectual historians. We feel that intellectual history by nature closely responds to the history writing practiced both within and beyond the academy. The concerns we as historians share with our readers form a separate historical record. Our blog will track and hopefully contribute to this ongoing discussion. This includes drawing attention to scholarly controversies, intellectual trends, and public debates as much as to exciting new research itself. In other words, we believe intellectual history spans the earliest classics to trending subjects on Twitter (where you can follow us at @jhideas). The wonderful freedom which the field affords hence invites commentary not only from us as editors of the blog, but also from you the reader. And if we do our job, it should prove exciting to follow from day to day.
We have great models to follow. Nursing Clio, Immanent Frame, In the Middle, The Appendix and above all the Society for U.S. Intellectual History blog are some of our great inspirations—and favorite readings!—alongside the JHI itself. We intend to follow their example by commenting on scholarly happenings, broaching different controversies, following the news from the angle of intellectual history (which will include weekly link round-ups from around the web), and conducting occasional interviews and round table-style conversations. This also includes inviting frequent guest contributions, reporting on conferences, and (in time) assembling an events calendar for intellectual historians of all stripes. Naturally, the blog will prove experimental and contingent in all the best ways. Readers’ comments will be more than welcome throughout and, we hope, will help create the same sort of vibrant communities which our online role-models maintain. This means adding to and expanding a lively discussion already in place so far as intellectual history goes, like our parent journal focusing on but not confining ourselves to European intellectual history.
Given our reading practices, a blog can broaden our encounters with intellectual history. The JHI was conceived in the 1940s as a print journal, and continues to be to this day. Yet many of us download separate articles from this or that academic journal, and scan the contents of book reviews for books related to our separate niches in the field. This blog is intended for the medium in which it will be read—we hope that the ability to scroll through and jump from a variety of posts will help to broaden readers’ horizons and open up new possibilities for research. We aim to follow the example of the JHI in the sheer range of topics which we and our contributors aim to introduce and explore before a wider audience. The Journal’s most recent issues run the gamut from werewolves, Machiavelli, and music in ancient Egypt to ancient Platonism, homosexuality in Victorian England, and lexicography. Our hope is that the blog will follow suit.
We certainly have our work cut out for us as editors. You can read about us and our interests in the “About” page. We recognize that we are not representative of all intellectual historians, whether in America or the rest of the world. Here we expect our readers to help push the blog outwards, and we hope that you will challenge us in the comments below every post as well as writing us if there are subjects, events, or recent publications that you would like to see us cover. We intend to invite contributions from younger non-Anglophone historians and historians of the non-Western world, as well as from classicists, art historians, theologians, philosophers, scientists, publishers, and lawyers, among others. If you work in the field of intellectual history and have an idea for a guest post, we also welcome pitches to our editorial email address. In other words, this blog will remain a work in progress—just as intellectual history itself always proves. We’re excited to get started.
— Emily, John, and Madeline