Lectures in Intellectual History
Summary: Recordings from the popular public lecture series. Between 2010 and 2013 at the University of Sussex, and from 2013 at the University of St Andrews.
Professor Isabel Rivers on the reception of John Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress' in the eighteenth century. First published in two parts in 1678 and 1683, 'Pilgrim's Progress' was to become the most popular religious work in English after the King James Bible. This lecture explores its fortunes in the evangelical revival of the eighteenth century: how it was made into a polemical text in the battles between Arminians and Calvinists; how it was used for pastoral purposes, both in print and in society meetings; and how it became a means of writing the history of dissent and evangelicalism.
Professor John Robertson explores how the Hobbesian proposition - that man was not naturally sociable - was answered by recourse to sacred history, the account of the ancient Hebrews and contemporary peoples found in the Old Testament. Focussing particularly on the Neapolitan historians Giambattista Vico and Pietro Giannone, this lecture will show how they adapted and extended the framework for the study of sacred history laid down by the authorities in Rome, and from this, produced remarkably original accounts of the formation of society.
Professor Donald Winch examines Keynes's work devoted to biographical studies and psychological character analysis. It was an occupation he sustained throughout his life in parallel with his work as an economist, and it resulted in his 'Essays in Biography', first published in 1933 but expanded by later essays that make up the Royal Economic Society (RES) edition of this work. As Publications Secretary to the RES, Donald Winch has written a reappraisal of Keynes's work in this field to accompany a reissue of the essays. The lecture is based on this and deals with the literary context of Keynes's essays, showing their Bloomsbury roots and their origin in such fields as genealogy, eugenics, Freudian psychoanalysis, and Keynes's need to understand the intellectual traditions that had conditioned economics as a policy-oriented discipline – the discipline to which Keynes was to make a major contribution in his 'General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money' in 1936.
Professor J.G.A. Pocock discusses the publication, in 1776, of two chapters of Edward Gibbon's 'Decline and Fall' on the spread of Christianity; they aroused such controversy that it is still supposed that he wrote his history as an attack on religion. In this lecture, Professor Pocock argues to the contrary that the two chapters were prematurely written, and that the controversy is to be understood in the setting of the Church of England's need to reconcile a civil religion with the belief in Christian revelation.