School of History, Classics & Archaeology

Intellectual History Research Group

The Intellectual History research group brings together staff and students from across the School who are interested in the history of ideas, intellectuals, and intellectual movements.

Edinburgh has one of the largest concentrations of intellectual historians of any university in the UK, with particular strengths in the following areas:

  • Ancient Greek political thought and practice
  • Early modern European intellectual history
  • Modern global intellectual history (including Europe, America, Asia and Africa)

Our members are currently involved in a wide range of research projects, including: 

  • a history of distributed cognition, the ability of humans to rely on features of the body and the world to supplement and structure our thinking in subtle and complex ways, from ancient Greece and through the ages (Prof Douglas Cairns)
  • Greeks' ideas about the role of the law and the relationship between authoritative lawgiving and popular sovereignty (Dr Mirko Canevaro)
  • the role of intellectuals in Hellenistic society and the impact of the emergence of the royal court as a focus for intellectual activity on the character of Greek intellectual culture (Prof Andrew Erskine)
  • a history of Japan's first psychotherapists (1930s - 1960s), together with the broader national and transnational processes of 'religion-psy dialogue' of which they were a pioneering part (Dr Christopher Harding)
  • a political and intellectual biography of William Carstares, one of King William III’s most important advisors on Scottish ecclesiastical and political affairs (Dr Esther Mijers)
  • Scottish religious heterodoxy and its contribution to European free thought, c. 1688-1713, with particular attention to the writings of Archibald Pitcairne (1652-1713) (Dr Alasdair Raffe)

We organise work-in-progress seminars for PhD students and members of staff, as well as occasional lectures from scholars within and outwith Edinburgh. The Group is also on Twitter. You can find out more about the seminars and follow the Group at the links below.

Seminar series Twitter