By Co-Hosts Simon Brown and Disha Karnad Jani
In the past few months, we’ve had the opportunity to speak with several scholars on their new and forthcoming work, and we’ve found these conversations surprising, entertaining, and intellectually exciting. Through these conversations, we’ve been able to ask writers precisely the kinds of questions we often have when we read: why did you choose to write about this? How did you come to your sources? What are the stakes of this debate for you? How should we teach this work? What are the politics that underlie your intervention, and what sort of moral imperative does your work suggest? With a podcast, we can invite listeners into an in-depth discussion on a topic with someone who has been generous enough with their time and scholarship to talk with us, and hopefully allow the listener to leave with a better understanding of the intellectual question at hand, and a desire to search for more. We seek to have frank conversations about the work produced by intellectual historians with those historians themselves, so that we might bring more people into the conversations around the ideas that animate and haunt our pasts and presents.
There’s an exciting proliferation of new work in intellectual history, and our conversations will focus on those original arguments and the ideas behind them. Each discussion will take up a recent book, reconstruct the narrative, walk through the argument and consider how it fits within the broader concerns of the author and her field. These conversations will also allow the author to talk about the ideas and commitments that give their histories the shape they take. Theoretical considerations of the relation between ideas and practices, the social origins of concepts and the status of the “intellectual” can seem disconnected from our work when they’re unmoored from historical examples. Questions like these confront anyone working in the history of ideas, and answers to them can help clarify our narratives. Our interviews will offer the opportunity for scholars to directly engage with them in a way that listeners can find insightful.
The conversations will span a range of periods, regions and subfields, but all will speak to issues of interest to anyone working broadly in intellectual history. We are eager to talk with early-career scholars about their first books, and also more experienced authors about recent publications.
If you have an idea for an interview, and would either like us to run it or would like to interview the author yourself, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com with a brief summary of the book you’d like to discuss, your interests, and a timeline for publishing.