Ideas and Intellectuals

Ideas shape the world we live in—from why we get married, to what we believe will happen after we die, to why we support a particular political party, to what we believe will make us more prosperous. These ideas have histories. What we believe is not the same as what other people in other places and other times have believed. Why is this the case? Why have some ways of knowing come to dominate in some periods and places, and not in others? Why have certain notions about politics, economics, culture, and the natural world pushed aside competing claims? What roles have intellectuals played in creating and disseminating important ideas? How do particular frames of reference shape our understandings of history? What is the relationship between material conditions and the development of a robust intellectual culture? There are many ways to approach the history of ideas, ideologies, and intellectuals. Yale’s history department offers courses that focus on the history of philosophy, science, religion, and political and economic thought, as well as broader social ideas. Some courses focus on intellectuals and the development of particular schools of thought; others seek to put the realm of ideas into a range of social, economic or political contexts. Yale undergraduates can select from a range of courses focusing on ideas from the ancient to the contemporary, and from China to the Americas.
Faculty advisers: Abbas Amanat, Paola Bertucci, Rosie Bsheer, Deborah Coen, Rohit De, Carolyn Dean, Fabian Drixler, Carlos Eire, Joanne Freeman, John Gaddis, Beverly Gage, Valerie Hansen, Ivan Marcus, Samuel Moyn, Isaac Nakhimovsky, Steven Pincus, Terence Renaud, Stuart Semmel, Marci Shore, David Sorkin, Francesca Trivellato
Sample Courses in this pathway:
HIST 022, What History Teaches, John Gaddis
HIST 135J, The Age of Hamilton and Jefferson, Joanne Freeman
HIST 136J, Liberalism and Conservatism in U.S. Politics, Beverly Gage
HIST 159J, Spies, Secrets, and Science, Paola Bertucci
HIST 210, The Early Middle Ages, 284-1000, Anders Winroth
HIST 248, Introduction to Modern Jewish Thought, Eliyahu Stern
HIST 257J, Art, Technology, and Science to 1800, Paola Bertucci
HIST 271, European Intellectual History since Nietzsche, Marci Shore
HIST 281, Christian Mysticism, 1200-1700, Carlos Eire
HIST 422J, Human Rights in History, Carolyn Dean