International conference
Russian State University for the Humanities
June 18-19, 2021, online event

Historians have been reflecting upon the nature of historical time for several decades, mainly in relation to socio-political history or the history of art. But what about intellectual history, which deals with the formation of abstract ideas and concepts? Are there any special forms that time takes in this process?

In the study of this problem, at least three directions can be outlined:

1) The temporal distance between the historian and the ideas he or she explores: how obligatory is this distance at all, is a history of contemporary ideas possible? What is the optimal length of this distance, are there “non-historical” eras from the point of view of intellectual history?

2) The tempo of development of ideas: does there exist in intellectual culture something like longue durée or even unchanging, constant ideas? What are the forms of intellectual anachronism, i.e. coexistence of ideas originating in different times? Are there retrogress and cyclical evolution in intellectual history, a return of the forgotten and repressed? What are the typical rhythms of the emergence and development of ideas? How does the mechanism of fashion work in intellectual history?

3) The periodization of intellectual culture: do the “intellectual” epochs differ from the "cultural" ones? Are we using today the concepts of “episteme” (Foucault) and Sattelzeit (Koselleck)? When and how do intellectual revolutions take place?

These and other aspects of temporality in the intellectual culture of different countries are proposed to be discussed through the history of science, philosophy, political thought, literature - all possible areas of culture where intellectual evolution takes place. Both theoretical reflections and inquiries of specific "cases" of intellectual history from the point of view of their temporality are welcomed. We intend to analyze the time of ideas, and not the ideas of time, that is, the temporal evolution of the intellectual culture itself, and not concepts of time which could be put forward in philosophy and the humanities of an historical epoch (unless the subject of those concepts had been the laws of the temporal development of ideas).

The conference will be held online, as part of the activities of the Institute of Higher Studies in the Humanities of the Russian State University for the Humanities and with the support of Academia Europaea. Publication of proceedings is projected.

The main language of the conference will be Russian. This means that we can also accept presentations in English, yet for discussing other papers, and even their own ones, the speakers must be able to understand, if not to speak, Russian. We don’t provide synchronic translation, expensive and insufficient when slight semantic differences are in question (as it is common in the history of ideas). This linguistic restriction has nothing to do with thematic limitation: the speakers are welcome to explore the intellectual history of any region of the world, but we will talk about it mainly in Russian.

Applications (name and affiliation of the speaker + title of the paper + abstract 10-20 lines) are received until March 31, 2021 at

Sergey Zenkin
Sergey ZENKIN MAE Research professor of the Russian State University for the Humanities (RGGU, Moscow)
Professor of the Higher School of Economics (Saint-Petersburg)
Professor of the Free University (Moscow)


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