History Podcasts

History of Ideas

History of Ideas

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This course is being offered to members of the University of the Third Age in Worthing. Please feel free to use the material on your own courses. I can also supply you with the primary sources that go with the sessions.

(1) Socrates (c. 470 - 399 BC)

(2) Plato (c 428 - c.348 BC)

(3) Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC)

(4) Epicurus (341 BC - 270 BC)

(5) Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC)

(6) Jesus (c. 4 BC - c. 33 AD)

(7) Seneca (2 BC - 65 AD)

(8) Paul of Tarsus (c. 5 AD - c. 65 AD)

(9) Justin Martyr (100 AD - 165 AD)

(10) Marcus Aurelius (121 AD - 180 AD)

(11) Celsus (c. 140 AD - c. 185 AD)

(12) Plotinus (c. 204 AD - 270 AD)

(13) Mani (c. 209 AD - 274 AD)

(14) Augustine of Hippo (354 AD - 430 AD)

(15) John of Salisbury (c. 1110 - 1180)

(16) Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225 - 1274)

(17) Roger Bacon (c. 1219 – c. 1292)

(18) John Wycliffe (c. 1325 - 1384)

(19) John Ball (c. 1340 - 1381)

(20) Desiderius Erasmus (1466–1536)

(21) Martin Luther (1483–1546)

(22) Thomas More (1478–1535)

(23) Niccolò Machiavelli (1469–1527)

(24) John Calvin (1509–1564)

(25) Francis Bacon (1561–1626)

(26) René Descartes (1596–1650)

(27) Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679)

(28) Gerrard Winstanley (1609 - 1676)

(29) John Lilburne (c. 1615 - 1657)

(30) Blaise Pascal (1623–1662)

(31) George Fox (1624 - 1691)

(32) Robert Boyle (1627–1691)

(33) Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677)

(34) John Locke (1632–1704)

(35) Isaac Newton (1643–1727)

(36) Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1885)

In this episode Kasia Krzyżanowska talks to Douglas G. Morris, a legal historian and practicing criminal defense attorney with Federal Defenders of New York, about his newest book published by Cambridge University Press on Ernst Fraenkel. Fraenkel’s most famous work is “The Dual State, but he did not limit himself to scholarly work only. We discuss Continue Reading

Let’s Teach a History of Ideas, Not the History of Individuals

This op-ed is one of a three-part series of opinion pieces in which educators address the way design history has traditionally been taught, and how we can push for more representation in the canon. Previously we published a piece by Ruth Sykes of Central Saint Martins and one by YuJune Park and Caspar Lam of Parsons School of Design. The series originally ran in Eye on Design magazine issue #01: Invisible.

This is quite a time for the “unsung.” My inbox and my social media feeds are finally full of monographs, retrospectives, and awards that celebrate the underrepresented, diligently painting back into the picture heroes and heroines who seem to have accidentally fallen out. But the structure is the same: So-and-so is a genius, now acknowledged, because the old gatekeepers have now been usurped. I’m happy that we can finally acknowledge our biases, but I’m also troubled, because we’re still substituting lists of people for the larger narratives that we all contribute to.

Now, rather than five or six “titans,” we have a pantheon of gods and goddesses to choose from and that pantheon looks a little more like us. When we all choose our own heroes and heroines, however, we have even fewer shared stories or references. And without common references, we strip our shiny new historical people of context.

How we make what we make is shaped by where we are in the history of ideas.

To see this in action, go into any design classroom and ask: “What is modernism?” If there are international students, the question is complicated before you even begin to address design the student from Denmark has a different understanding of modernism than the student from India, Turkey, or Brazil. American students will generally give you a stylistic explanation like “it’s keeping things simple,” as if it is an expression of personal taste. Someone will offer “form follows function,” without knowing where that phrase comes from, what it was responding to, or what its own mostly xenophobic defenses were at the turn of the 20th century.

How we make what we make is shaped by where we are in the history of ideas—how we answer the big questions. How do we see the world? What are the rights and responsibilities of individuals? What do we value as a society? What is our relationship to technology? As designers, we encode these ideas into what we make. When we encode these ideas, to a certain degree, we endorse them. When I make a “clean” layout, for example, I add one more vote for universal meaning and hygienic form one more vote for a world that believes in progress. But in order to understand what I am saying yes to, I need to know where these ideas are coming from, what they rose in reaction to, and how they’ve been questioned.

We also need a shared understanding of where the machine ends and the human begins in the process of design, and how this has changed over time. It was the invention of the flashbulb, not just individual photographic genius, that made the muckraking images of Jacob Riis possible. Almost all of the technological developments of the last 30 years that have changed our day-to-day lives have to do with communication. We still ride 747s, but the entire structure of how we get information from one brain into another has irreversibly changed. Instead of fully acknowledging how those advancements have changed what we make and how we think, we have lost ourselves in the nostalgia of the pre-digital. Our contemporary communication landscape—even offline—is almost entirely constructed by templates and algorithms. How this all came to be is relevant, crucial even.

It was the invention of the flashbulb, not just individual photographic genius, that made the muckraking images of Jacob Riis possible.

Yet we turn our attention to the biographies of Toulouse Lautrec and Dieter Rams, hoping there are some secrets to genius there that we can use in our own quest to matter within this new paradigm. Meanwhile, we mostly regard postmodernism as a bad dream (“David Carson! Can you believe it?”) and forget to talk about what happened after, and how we got to our present moment. When we add women to our conversation, we don’t discuss their husbands or the family they were born into because it ruins the story of the individual genius in a meritocratic culture.

Don’t get me wrong, teaching history through biography can be a useful tool. In elementary school, kids are introduced to history through characters that they can empathize with, before they develop a database of big-picture events to connect to. As grown-ups, though, we are fully qualified to discuss and debate ideas. And substituting hagiography for history itself is an American obsession that we should consider letting go. It’s connected to our most corrosive idea, one that is currently enjoying a renaissance: that we are a culture of winners and losers, the winners always deserve to win, and the losers deserve their punishment.

If we valued the history of ideas as much as the history of individuals, if we understood design history in its full economic, political, and social contexts, we would also value more the work of the archivist, the moderator, the facilitator, the teacher, and the producer. And when future educators describe our time, what will they say? Will they again make lists of people, and try to make sure their accounting shakes out okay? Or will they say that we all contributed in making this new world, and talk about how all of our contributions—whether in words, pictures, posts, or spreadsheets—mattered in that making?

Juliette Cezzar is a designer, writer, and educator based in New York City.

Mexico Today

Mexico’s population has greatly increased since World War II, but the distribution of wealth remains imbalanced. Due to negligible legislative assistance, the poor are generally unable to improve their socio-economic status. The state of Chiapas exemplifies the problems caused by financial imbalance. In 1994, the Zapatista National Liberation Army rose up to challenge discrimination against Chiapas’ poor.

Although their rebellion was unsuccessful, the Zapatistas continue to fight against imbalanced land ownership and power distribution, with little success. Further complicating the already problematic social division is the ever-growing problem of drug trafficking, which has contributed to political and police corruption and helped widen the gap between the elite and the underprivileged.

In recent years, the building of foreign-owned factories and plants (maquiladoras) in some of Mexico’s rural areas has helped draw the population away from Mexico City and redistribute some of the country’s wealth. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1994 increased Mexico’s financial ties to the United States and Canada, but the Mexican economy remains fragile. Despite its problems, the Mexican economy, with its growing industrial base, abundant natural resources and variety of service industries, remains important to Latin America.

Today, tourism is a major contributor to the Mexican economy. People flock to Mexico from all over the world to sample the country’s cultural diversity, bask in the lush tropical settings and take advantage of relatively low prices. U.S. tourists constitute the majority of visitors to the country. In the past, tourists traveled mainly to Mexico City and the surrounding colonial towns of the Mesa Central unfortunately, the capital city’s reputation has suffered due to social and environmental problems, notably high levels of air pollution and crime. Tourists still flock to the beaches of the world-famous resorts in Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Mazatlán, Cancún and Puerto Escondido.

A History of Religious Ideas

----- (1978) A History of Religious Ideas, vol. I, From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries, trans. W. Trask, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. (Originally projected as a complete history of religion in one volume. This was an attempt to give Eliade's understanding of the entire history of religion from a unified perspective. A useful reference work, potentially readable in its entirety. Many of Eliade's categories survive in this mature work: the terror of history, the coincidentia oppositorum, the symbolism of the center, the hieros gamos or symbolic heavenly marriage.)

----- (1982) A History of Religious Ideas, vol. II, From Gautama Buddha to the Triumph of Christianity, trans. W. Trask, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

----- (1985) The History of Religious Ideas, vol. III, From Muhammad to the Age of the Reforms, trans. A. Hiltebeitel and D. Apostolos-Cappadona, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

The 7 Greatest Ideas in History

We all have ideas all the time. Some are good, but rather ordinary, (like spontaneously buying flowers for your wife on the way home), some are bad (like buying her a knife set for her birthday) and others, like Google’s PageRank are unquestionably great.

Just a few stand out above all the rest. They change the course of history and affect the lives of millions who aren’t even aware of them. Amazingly, some are largely the work of a single person.

Those ideas are truly great and seven really stand out. To make my selection, I applied three criteria: Longevity (i.e. they survive a long time without being amended or surpassed in any significant way), impact (i.e. they greatly affected the lives and work of others) and authorship (i.e. they can be traced to one person). Here’s my list, see what you think.

Aristotle’s Logic

In terms of longevity, only Euclid’s geometry (which doesn’t make the list because of fuzzy authorship) can rival Aristotle’s logic. Any time we say someone is being “illogical” or that an argument is valid, we are referring to Aristotle. Amazingly, it sprung forth from his mind seemingly without precursor or precedent and lasted for two millennia.

That logic has advanced in this sure course, even from the earliest times, is apparent from the fact that, since Aristotle, it has been unable to advance a step and, thus, to all appearance has reached its completion.

That’s pretty amazing, two thousand years and nobody had been able to find any flaws or improve on the idea in any significant way. At the core of Aristotelian logic is the syllogism, which is made up of propositions which consist of two terms (a subject and a predicate). If the propositions in the syllogism are true, then the argument is true.

There are, of course, more complexities as you delve deeper, but what gives logic so much power is the simple concept that we can judge the validity of statements by their structure alone, even when stripped of their content. If you follow the rules of logic, every statement you make will be valid (i.e. internally consistent).

Today, two thousand years later, Aristotle’s simple idea stands at the core of the information technology that runs our modern world.

Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems

Alas, all good things must come to an end and by the late 19th century logic’s seams began to show. People like Frege and Cantor were among the first to try to patch up the system, but Russell’s paradox showed that those solutions too, were flawed. Then David Hilbert came up with the idea of logic as a closed system and logic lived to fight another day.

That was until 1931, when 25 year-old Kurt Gödel killed it for good with his incompleteness theorems.

He created an incredibly innovative method called Gödel numbering to prove that all systems are either incomplete or inconsistent. No matter how they are constructed, they will eventually end up with a statement that is both true and not true by the rules of the system.

It’s a seemingly small idea that has enormous consequences. It means that every logical system will fail and every computer program will crash,it’s just a matter of time. You can never fix the system, because systems themselves are necessarily broken.

Gödel isn’t very well known, but he was clearly a genius of historic proportions. He is interesting in another light as well, the amazing story of the friendship he struck up with Einstein. You can read more about it in Palle Yourgrau’s excellent book, A World Without Time.

Newton’s Physics

In 1665, the great plague swept through Great Britain, eventually wiping out over 100,000 people, including 20% of London’s population. As a safety measure, Cambridge university closed its doors in order to prevent further spread of the disease. It remained shut for two years

One of the students, 23 year-old Isaac Newton returned having filled notebooks with the ideas that would eventually be published as Principia Mathematica. In it, he laid out the principles of his laws of motion, gravity and calculus. In two short years, he laid out the basic structures which formed the basis for modern science and engineering.

Centuries later, other men have built on the foundation that Newton created. The buildings we live and work in as well as the bridges that we cross, owe a large debt to that extended summer vacation and stand as a testament to the power of one man’s mind.

Darwin’s Natural Selection

It’s unfortunate that Darwin is so controversial in some circles these days and that over half of Americans say they don’t believe in evolution.

In reality, whatever your religious beliefs, if you go to a modern hospital, take antibiotics, use the term meme, send things by UPS or even shop at Wal-Mart, you are, in some sense, showing an implicit belief in Darwin’s idea.

Many people think that Darwin came up with the idea of evolution, which he didn’t. What he really did was formulate a simple algorithmic process that explains an amazing array of natural phenomena:

If entities are subject to varying conditions


If resources are limited, resulting in a struggle for survival


If characteristics of individuals are passed to future generations

Then a process will occur in which entities adapt to become more fit for the environment in which they need to survive.

In over 150 years, no one has found a flaw in the argument (although creationists argue that the first proposition doesn’t hold, thereby nullifying the argument’s force with respect to evolution). Without Darwin’s theory, we couldn’t do modern epidemiology or create the genetic algorithms that make logistics systems run efficiently or lots of other things.

Very few ideas have been as powerful or been applied so widely to so many good ends.

Einstein’s Miracle Year

Much like Newton, Einstein brilliance sprung forth in a single burst of creativity. In 1905, now known as his miracle year, the unknown patent clerk unleashed 4 papers of major significance and two of those ideas changed the course of science.

The first was the special theory of relativity, which I have described before, but the basic concept is that time and space are relative measures, not absolute quantities. It sounds wacky, but GPS is corrected for his equations, so every time you use your car’s navigation system you are inadvertently proving it all over again.

He later added an appending note to his relativity paper when he realized that one of the ramifications was mass-energy equivalence, which he expressed in his famous formula:

The second paper of historical consequence was on the photoelectric effect, where he theorized that light was made up of discrete packets of energy he called quanta (although now known as photons). Ironically, the idea led to the quantum mechanics, which he could never accept and spent the rest of his life trying to disprove.

Good thing he didn’t. Most of modern electronics is based on that paper.

Shannon’s Information Theory

Much like Gödel, few people know of Claude Shannon. He was a quiet, quirky sort, who liked to juggle and ride his unicycle around Bell Labs.

He spent most of the war years working on cryptography for the military, which is where he probably got the idea for his 1948 paper, A Mathematical Theory of Communication, which created the field of information theory (interesting, that was the same year his colleagues invented the transistor).

The basic idea was that information can be broken down into quantifiable entities he called binary digits (or bits for short), which represented two alternative possibilities, much like a coin toss. Add up all of the coin tosses, and you arrive at the total amount of information that you need to communicate.

Not since Aristotle has such an important theory sprung forth from one man, seemingly out of thin air, which emerged full and complete and that had such enormous historical impact. It touches everything we do in the digital age, from storing files on a disc to talking on a mobile phone to compressing videos so that we can watch them on YouTube.

Unlike many other geniuses of historical significance, Shannon wasn’t all about theory, he liked putting ideas into practice. Most notably, applying his formidable mathematical skills in the stock market, where he made a fortune.

Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web

When Tim Berners-Lee was working as a systems administrator at CERN in the 80’s, he noticed a problem. Physicists would come from all of the world, spend months peering into the mysteries of the universe, but could not communicate what they found with each other in an effective manner.

The problem wasn’t the hardware, the internet had been around for a while by then. Rather, the difficulty lay in that everybody was using different systems and could not easily display their information on a platform where everybody could find and access it. He saw the need for a electronic filing system where ideas could be universally displayed.

So in November of 1989, he created the three protocols that make up the modern Web, HTTP, URL and HTML. He continues to embellish the original idea at the World Wide Web Consortium, but those three pillars remain at the center of not only his creation, but allow us to so easily access all the great ideas that came before it.

CHID's Diversity Statement

The Comparative History of Ideas Department is deeply committed to fostering a critically engaged and supportive community where all students, staff, and faculty are treated with respect and care. We strive to create an inclusive space where difference is valued, and people from a diverse range of backgrounds and orientations—including ability, gender, national, religious, sexual, racial, political, and more—are welcomed and able to thrive. Our community emphasizes the importance of acknowledging and actively addressing barriers to knowledge and education, and of making visible the ongoing dynamics of settler colonialism, patriarchy, and other structures of oppression that continue to marginalize, minoritize and invisibilize various gender, racial, national and ethnic identities. We recognize our collective responsibility in addressing and mitigating those dynamics to create the conditions in which our learning community can flourish. We recognize the power of stories and personal journeys as crucial for creating an engaged and reflective community.

Inspired by the work of Federico Ardila, professor of mathematics at San Francisco State University, we offer the following axioms:

  • Axiom 1—Intellectual potential is distributed equally among different groups, irrespective of geographic, demographic, political, and economic boundaries.
  • Axiom 2—Everyone can have joyful, meaningful, and empowering intellectual experiences.
  • Axiom 3—Intellectual inquiry is a powerful, malleable tool that can be shaped and used differently by various communities to serve their needs.
  • Axiom 4—Every student, staff, and faculty member of our community deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

CHID 101: Introduction to CHID (1 course)

This course introduces students to the CHID learning community. It incorporates discussions about the program’s philosophy, structure, resources, faculty and students. It is an introduction to the content and logistics of learning in CHID. Students must take this course in the first or second quarter after declaring the major.

Gateways to CHID (2 courses)

Each of these courses will offer students a particular approach to the comparative history of ideas. Classes in this category examine a particular topic/idea from a variety of disciplinary, theoretical, and methodological perspectives. In taking at least two courses in this category, students will begin to think comparatively and from a range of perspectives. Students can choose from a variety of courses taught by CHID faculty. See Suggested Courses.

Cultural and Historical Engagements

This requirement asks students to engage in rigorous and comparative cultural analysis, which may or may not involve international study. It can be fulfilled in one of three ways:

CHID Study Abroad (1 quarter)

Students spend one quarter studying in one of the various CHID study abroad programs. In addition to fulfilling the requirements of the study abroad program, students will also be asked to write a concise 1 page paper describing the ways in which their international study informed their understanding of cultural engagements and encounters. If a student feels that a non-CHID study abroad program may also satisfy this spirit of comparative cultural study, they may consult with CHID’s academic advisor for approval. Visit CHID Study Abroad to see a list of our upcoming programs.

Local/Global Engagements (1 course)

Though based at the UW, these courses use a transnational theme and structure to explore the links between local and global forces. For example, a course which uses communication technology (e.g. webcasts, online learning, etc.) to link students at the UW with other communities outside of the U.S. would satisfy this requirement. Alternatively, a course that provides students with out-of-classroom experiences (field visits, community work, field research, etc.) tracing the global and local intersections in areas such as immigration, agriculture, transnational advocacy, artistic production, etc., would also fulfill this requirement. See Suggested Courses.

Encounters Across Cultures (2 courses, 1 of which can be a non-CHID study abroad program)

Students may satisfy this requirement by taking at least two courses on different peoples, places, spaces, or moments. The goal of such exposure to different contexts is to provide the opportunity to make cross-cultural comparisons regarding power, difference and belonging. As with the CHID study abroad requirement, students will be asked to write a brief 1 page paper based on the courses taken for this requirement, detailing the value of comparative research. See Suggested Courses.

Ideas in the World (1 course)

Through these courses, students will explore various systems of belief, conceptual frameworks, paradigms, historical understandings, and ways of knowing. For example, these courses can include such diverse areas as science and technology, European intellectual history, indigenous intellectual production, and post-structural theory. See Suggested Courses.

Power and Difference (1 course)

Oppression, injustice and efforts to combat forms of domination work through the cultural politics of identity in various ways. Such a course should emphasize the ways in which categories like gender, race, class, sexuality, and religion structure the terrain of social orders and struggles. See Suggested Courses.

CHID 390: Junior Colloquium (1 course)

The core course for all majors, this course introduces students to central concepts like culture, identity, and power, and to the cross-disciplinary study of these concepts. Organized as a seminar, students are expected to shape the direction of these explorations in a collaborative fashion and are encouraged to engage in both oral and written exchanges with their peers. Prereqs: CHID 101, Gateways to CHID, Ideas in the World, and Power and Difference.

Electives (to bring total CHID credits up to 60 credits 13-18 credits)

Each student is required to complete at least fifteen elective credits by taking courses that contribute to her/his focus in her/his degree. The only stipulation for this requirement is that the courses be at the 300-level or above, and that the CHID Academic Counselor has agreed that the classes fit into the student's course of study.

Senior Thesis/Capstone Project (10-15 credits)

This requirement asks students to engage in rigorous intellectual and interdisciplinary inquiry. The senior project should demonstrate that the student has attained the educational objectives of the major. CHID students can choose from two senior research project options: a 10-credit (CHID 491 and 493) or a 15-credit (CHID 491, 492, and 493) senior thesis. Students who have planned and finished a large-scale academic project will not only have the ability to finish similar projects in their chosen field of work, but they will also have developed the communication skills necessary for the successful dissemination of their ideas. Prereqs: CHID 390

Students who declared CHID as their major prior to Fall 2014, may choose to complete a 5-, 10-, or 15-credit thesis project. Should a student choose the 5-credit option, they may fulfill this requirement by either taking CHID 490, which is only offered during selected quarters, or working independently with a thesis advisor (upon their approval) during one quarter. In order to register for this option (working independently with an advisor), students will need to complete the CHID 491B form, and will register for CHID 491 B. CHID 491 A will no longer accommodate students completing a 5-credit thesis. Instead, CHID 491 A will support students in crafting a thesis proposal and finding a thesis advisor. We strongly encourage students to consider the 10- or 15-credit thesis option. If a student insists on a 5-credit thesis option, CHID highly recommends that the student enroll in CHID 490. Click here for guidelines for non-text-based projects and senior theses.

You can find a list of senior thesis titles from the past ten years here: CHID Senior Thesis Presentations, 2006-2015 (PDF).


CHID 101 Introduction to the Comparative History of Ideas (2)
Provides a methodological, curricular, and intellectual introduction to comparative history of ideas. Teaches the importance of interdisciplinary inquiry in research and provides models for how to formulate, undertake, and present interdisciplinary research projects. Offered: AWSp.
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CHID 110 The Question of Human Nature (5) VLPA/I&S
Considers the relationship between the individual and his/her culture. Traces the evolution of the notion of human nature in Europe and the United States and compares this tradition with representations of the human being from other cultural traditions.
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CHID 111 History of the Present (5) I&S Nicolaas P. Barr
Introduces students to thinking about social, cultural, and political issues of current relevance as objects of historical inquiry and about the role of historical argumentation in contemporary public debate. Offered: jointly with HSTCMP 111.
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CHID 120 Yoga: Past and Present (5) VLPA/I&S, DIV
Studies yoga and its history, practice, literature, and politics. From the ancient past to modern yoga, studies essential texts and ideas, as well as the effects of class, religion, gender, nationalism, development, Marxism, colonialism, and physical culture on yoga. Offered: jointly with RELIG 120 A.
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CHID 205 Method, Imagination, and Inquiry (5) VLPA
Examines ideas of method and imagination in a variety of texts, in literature, philosophy, and science. Particularly concerned with intellectual backgrounds and methods of inquiry that have shaped modern Western literature. Offered: jointly with ENGL 205.
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CHID 206 Violence and Contemporary Thought (5) I&S, DIV Nicolaas P. Barr
Modern and contemporary ideas about violence and their emergence as intellectual responses to historical events. Topics may include histories of physical violence, such as slavery, colonialism, or the Holocaust, as well as structural forms of violence. Offered: jointly with JEW ST 206 A.
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CHID 207 Introduction to Intellectual History (5) I&S
Ideas in historical context. Comparative and developmental analysis of Western conceptions of "community," from Plato to Freud. Offered: jointly with HSTCMP 207.
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CHID 210 The Idea of the University: Ways of Learning, Exploring, and Knowing (5) I&S
Considers different ways of learning, exploring, and knowing in the context of the historical development, social context, and impact of universities in general and of the University of Washington in particular. Includes reflective workshops on choosing areas of study (majors) in collaboration with Undergraduate Advising.
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CHID 222 BioFutures (5) I&S/NW
Explores key legal, ethical, cultural, scientific, and commercial aspects of the rapidly changing world of biotechnology and bioinformatics. Specifically asks how new discoveries in biology encourage us to rethink issues of ownership, communication, geography, identity, and artistic practice.
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CHID 230 Introduction to Disability Studies (5) I&S, DIV J. WOIAK
Introduces the field of disability studies. Focuses on the theoretical questions of how society predominantly understands disability and the social justice consequences. Examines biological, social, cultural, political, and economic determinants in the framing of disability. Offered: jointly with DIS ST 230/LSJ 230.
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CHID 235 Representations of Disability in Popular Culture (5) I&S, DIV
Social construction of 'disability' reflected in and shaped by popular culture. Examples from sports coverage, film, television, fashion, and art both by and about disabled people. Ways in which disability representations in the media reify, problematize, and/or challenge marginalization of this social status. Offered: jointly with DIS ST 235/SOC 235.
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CHID 250 Special Topics: Introduction to the History of Ideas (5, max. 15) I&S
Examines a different subject or problem from a comparative framework. Satisfies the Gateways major/minor requirement. Offered: AWSp.
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CHID 260 Re-Thinking Diversity (5) I&S, DIV Bushnell
Considers the notion of diversity from many scholarly perspectives and from personal engagements. Critically engages historical thinking about diversity and examines contemporary issues such as racism, sexism, and the cultural politics of difference.
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CHID 270 Special Topics (5, max. 15) I&S
Each special topics course examines a different subject or problem from a comparative framework.
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CHID 280 Indigenous Encounters: Politics, Culture, and Representation in Latin America (5) I&S, DIV Garcia
Explores the contemporary cultural and political transformations advanced by indigenous groups and their advocates in Latin America. Examines the concept of indigeneity, the cultural politics of indigenous mobilization, and the effects of international development policies on indigenous communities. Offered: jointly with JSIS A 280.
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CHID 298 Pre-Departure Seminars (2) I&S
Prepares students to participate in CHID international programs. Prerequisite: students must be accepted to an international program prior to registration. Credit/no-credit only. Offered: AWSpS.
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CHID 309 Marx and the Marxian Tradition in Western Thought: The Foundations of Modern Cultural Criticism I (5) I&S
Critically examines the formation of modern Western culture, politics, and society through an historical analysis of the work of Karl Marx and the thinkers, artists, and activists who assimilated and transformed Marxian concepts from the late nineteenth century to the present. Offered: jointly with HSTCMP 309.
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CHID 314 The Psychoanalytic Revolution in Historical Perspective (5) I&S
Genesis and evolution of Freudian theory in context of the crisis of liberal-bourgeois culture in central Europe and parallel developments in philosophy, literature, and social theory. Emergence and division of the psychoanalytic movement. Transformation of psychoanalysis in British, French, and especially American cultural traditions. Offered: jointly with HSTCMP 314.
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CHID 319 Nietzsche and the Nietzschean Legacy in Western Thought: Foundations of Modern Cultural Critique II (5) I&S
Critically examines the formation of modern Western politics, society, and cultures through a historical analysis of the thought of Freidrich Nietzsche and the thinkers, artists, and activists who assimilated and transformed the Nietzschean perspective during the twentieth century. Offered: jointly with HSTCMP 319.
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CHID 332 Disability and Society (5, max. 15) I&S
Concentrates on contemporary issues in disability studies, focusing on the thematic frameworks of rights, identities, values, and science/medicine. Offered: jointly with DIS ST 332/LSJ 332.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 332

CHID 335 Sex, Gender, and Disability (5) I&S, DIV
Examines ways that disability, sex, and gender are connected as socially constructed categories. Topics include the ways in which the sexuality of people with disabilities is experienced and represented, the intersection of disability and gender inequality, and how the field of disability studies relates to and can transform other theoretical approaches to gender and sex. Offered: jointly with DIS ST 335/GWSS 335.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 335

CHID 337 Social Construction of Madness and Mental Health in the United States (5) I&S
The construct of "mental health" and mental "un-health" from a sociological perspective. How categories such as mental illness, intellectual and developmental disability, cognitive impairment, and Mad Studies developed in the United States. Offered: jointly with DIS ST 337/SOC 337.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 337

CHID 350 Women in Law and Literature (5) I&S/VLPA, DIV
Representations of women in American law and literature. Considers how women's political status and social roles have influenced legal and literary accounts of their behavior. Examines how legal cases and issues involving women are represented in literary texts and also how law can influence literary expression. Offered: jointly with GWSS 350.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 350

CHID 370 The Cultural Impact of Information Technology (5) VLPA/I&S
Utilizing approaches from the history of technology, cultural studies, and literary theory, seeks to analyze the cultural and social impact of information technology. Considers how information technologies impact our relationships with others, our concept(s) of self, and the structure of the communities to which we belong. Offered: jointly with COM 302.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 370

CHID 380 Theories In the Study of Religion (5) I&S C. NOVETZKE, J. WELLMAN
Provides a variety of approaches to the study of religion centered on examining the relationship between religion and modernity in the tradition of post-enlightenment, Euro-American scholarship. Examines theories of religion across disciplines: history, anthropology, sociology, Marxism, feminism, postmodernism, political theology, and Freudian psycho-analytical theory. Offered: jointly with RELIG 380.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 380

CHID 390 Colloquium in the History of Ideas (5) I&S Phillip S Thurtle
Investigates the theoretical and practical problems of interpretation and knowledge production in a topic chosen by the instructor. Primarily for majors. Prerequisite: CHID 101.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 390

CHID 395 Interdisciplinary Praxis Lab (5) MariaElena Garcia, Caroline C Simpson, Phillip S Thurtle
As preparation for senior thesis work, introduces the importance of reflection combined with research methods in the form of a research praxis. Offered: ASp.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 395

CHID 399 Internship (5, max. 10)
Off-campus engagement with a local, national, or international organization, in an apprenticeship or internship capacity. Supervised by on-site field supervisor and Comparative History of Ideas faculty member.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 399

CHID 417 Enter the Dragon: Seminar on World Cultures through the Asian Martial Arts (5) I&S Novetzke
Examines how the martial arts have preserved religious, cultural, and philosophical aspects of the world areas of their origin, as well as the new cultures and international communities that have adopted and reinvented their practices and philosophies, including India, China, Japan, Korea, Brazil, and Euro-America. Offered: jointly with JSIS B 417.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 417

CHID 419 Disability in the Arts (5) I&S/VLPA, DIV
Examines how the expressive capacities of the arts capture, complicate, and transform the experience of disability. Recommended: DIS ST 230, LSJ 230, or CHID 230. Offered: jointly with DIS ST 419.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 419

CHID 430 Topics in Disability Studies (1-5, max. 15) I&S
Theoretical, critical, analytical, or comparative examination of an issue or issues in Disability Studies. Topics vary. Prerequisite: either DIS ST/CHID/LSJ 230, DIS ST 332, DIS ST 433, or DIS ST 434. Offered: jointly with DIS ST 430/LSJ 430.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 430

CHID 433 Disability Law, Policy, and the Community (5) I&S, DIV
Addresses the history of legal rights of disabled people, U. S. disability policy, and the role of community activism and other forces in policy development and systems change. Introduces the existing social service system that affects disabled people. Offered: jointly with DIS ST 433/LSJ 433.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 433

CHID 434 Civil and Human Rights Law for Disabled People (5) I&S, DIV Brown
Expands knowledge of civil and human rights for disabled people. Examines the American perspective (ADA) as well as various international models including the United Nations' International Human Rights treaties as they relate to disabled people. Offered: jointly with DIS ST 434/LSJ 434 A.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 434

CHID 437 Crime, Law, and Mental Illness (5) I&S, DIV
Explores experiences of those with mental illness in the criminal justice system and involuntary civil commitment system. Emphasis on societal responses including the emergence of therapeutic courts and specialized police training. Examines how courts, legislature, and communities balance public safety and civil liberties. Offered: jointly with DIS ST 437/LSJ 437.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 437

CHID 442 Roma Eterna (5) VLPA/I&S
Explores the historical layers of meaning in the artifacts and monuments of Rome to reflect on its transformation over time as a symbol of the human aspiration for both temporal order and spiritual and aesthetic transcendence. Specific periods considered for reading and daily site visits include Ancient Rome Imperial Rome Medieval Rome, Renaissance Rome Baroque Rome Romanticism, The Grand Tour and the Risorgimento and Fascist Rome.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 442

CHID 444 Eye and Mind (5) VLPA/I&S/NW P. THURTLE
Investigates life as an emergent phenomenon across the disciplines of biophilosophy, art, art history, literary criticism, and information studies with an emphasis on interdisciplinary methods. Addresses key issues in phenomenology, social theory, contemporary bioart, and complexity studies.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 444

CHID 459 Narrative Journalism (5) VLPA/I&S
Introduces the rigorous reporting and literary writing techniques of narrative journalism. Concentrates on producing nonfiction narrative articles for publication. Offered: jointly with COM 459.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 459

CHID 461 Democracy and Development in Central and Eastern Europe: Study Abroad (5) I&S Smith
Examines the relationship between democratization, economic development, and social transformation in Central and Eastern Europe. Offered on CHID study abroad programs in Central and Eastern Europe. Offered: ASpS.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 461

CHID 470 CHID Study Abroad (1-5, max. 15) I&S
For participants in study-abroad program. Specific course content varies.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 470

CHID 471 Europe Study Abroad (5, max. 15) I&S
For participants in study-abroad program. Specific course content varies.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 471

CHID 472 Latin America Study Abroad (5, max. 15) I&S
For participants in study-abroad program. Specific course content varies.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 472

CHID 473 Africa Study Abroad (5, max. 15) I&S
For participants in study-abroad program. Specific course content varies.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 473

CHID 474 Asia Study Abroad (5, max. 15) I&S
For participants in study-abroad program. Specific course content varies.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 474

CHID 475 East Asia Study Abroad (5, max. 15) I&S
For participants in study-abroad program. Specific course content varies.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 475

CHID 476 South Pacific Study Abroad (5, max. 15) I&S
For participants in study-abroad program. Specific course content varies.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 476

CHID 477 Middle East Study Abroad (5, max. 15) I&S
For participants in study-abroad program. Specific course content varies.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 477

CHID 480 Special Topics: Advanced Study of the History of Ideas (5, max. 15) I&S
Examines a different subject or problem from a comparative framework with an interdisciplinary perspective. Satisfies the Gateways major/minor requirement. Offered: AWSp.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 480

CHID 484 Colonial Encounters (5) I&S
History of European colonialism from the 1750s to the present, with an emphasis on British and French colonial encounters. Offered: jointly with HSTCMP 484.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 484

CHID 485 Comparative Colonialism (5) I&S, DIV Vicente L. Rafael
Explores the historic roots and practices of colonialism throughout the world, focusing on the roles of nationalism, cosmopolitanism, and imperial domination. Treats colonialism as a world event whose effects continue to be felt and whose power needs to be addressed. Offered: jointly with HSTCMP 485.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 485

CHID 487 Culture, Politics, and Violence in Latin America (5) I&S, DIV Garcia
Examines notions of "otherness" and the power to label as central to understanding inequality, human rights, and social struggle. Uses academic texts, films, documentaries, historical fiction, plays, and testimonials to interrogate the complexities of violence and social justice in Latin America, one of the most unequal regions in the world. Offered: jointly with JSIS A 485.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 487

CHID 488 Encountering Animals: Ethics, Culture, and Politics (5) I&S, DIV Garcia
Explores some ethical, political, and cultural questions regarding non-human animals and invites student to engage in debates about companion animals, the industrial food complex, zoos, and links between race, class, gender, sexuality, and species.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 488

CHID 490 Research Seminar (5) VLPA/I&S
Intensive readings in specific topic. Students complete individual research projects. Satisfies the CHID senior thesis requirement for students who declared the CHID major prior to Summer 2014. Prerequisite: CHID 390.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 490

CHID 491 Senior Thesis (5-) I&S
Critical and methodological issues. Required of candidates for an Honors degree. Prerequisite: CHID 390.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 491

CHID 492 Senior Thesis (-5-) I&S
Critical and methodological issues. Required of candidates for an Honors degree.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 492

CHID 493 Senior Thesis (-5) I&S
Research and writing of thesis under supervision of a faculty member. Required of candidates for an Honors degree.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 493

CHID 495 Close Readings in Theory (1-5, max. 15) I&S
Close readings of a specific work, author, artist, or body of work.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 495

CHID 496 Focus Groups (1-2, max. 4)
Credit/no-credit only.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 496

CHID 498 Special Colloquia (1-5, max. 20) I&S
Each colloquium examines a different subject or problem from a comparative framework.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 498

CHID 499 Undergraduate Independent Study or Research (1-5, max. 10)
Supervised independent study for students who wish to pursue topics not available in regular course offerings.
View course details in MyPlan: CHID 499

Customer Reviews


I regularly listen to several podcasts that cover this type of material, and appreciate each one greatly. However, for me, this one is the best. The presenter is clearly a world-class expert on the material *and* an extraordinary teacher. I love the professionalism of this podcast. The people involved obviously care deeply about making a high-quality product and are fortunate enough to have the proper equipment and team. The depth is perfect for me (well educated but little exposure to most of the books covered). The pacing and voice are perfect, and the ideas are summarized and presented clearly and brilliantly. I suspect he’s had years of teaching the material and has learned how to best deliver it to maximize attention, learning, and interest. I always end up taking notes and digging deeper into something presented in the episode, and *have* to share and discuss with family and friends. I am very grateful to everyone involved in creating to podcast.

Content interesting form is lacking

I wish Runciman could inject a bit more enthusiasm. He seems mildly depressed throughout. And how about an overview at the start, and a summary and conclusions at the end of each episode? Or is this how Oxbridge professors lecture today: stream of consciousness?

A Towering Program, Already

Runciman not only describes his great liberal and reactionary subjects in concise, beautiful prose he puts them into conversation with each other, layering each new episode over the prior entries, and for this reason the listener feels not lost in a maze of perspectives but lifted up to the clear, broad vantage of the master.

Watch the video: HISTORY OF IDEAS - Religion (July 2022).


  1. Camelon

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  2. Aiden

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  3. Jeryl

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  4. O'keefe

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