Intellectual History

Intellectual History at Duke draws on a collaborative graduate program, combining the faculty, student and library resources of Duke, UNC Chapel Hill and NCSU, with a monthly seminar at the National Humanities Center (NHC).  Our intellectual historians emphasize the social, cultural and discursive setting of thought, using biography, intellectual fields and political movements to set the context for intellectual change.  Transnational and interdisciplinary in their interests, they explore Diaspora, intelligentsia, émigrés, and cosmopolitanism, just as happily as ethnicity, nationality and empire, or emotions and the self.  They excel at querying unusual intersections—gender and military strategy, race and commerce, religious and economic discourse, political theory and philosophy of science.  They apply insights from a broad range of disciplines, including anthropology, literary and gender studies, and philosophy, but they seek an understanding of thinkers, ideas, texts and discourses that is emphatically contextual and historical.

In the modern European, Russian and Jewish fields, the program offers unparalleled resources.  It collaborates with the Political Theory and German Studies Programs, the Duke-UNC Jewish Studies Seminar, the Center for the History of Political Economy, and the Program in the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine.  It has international exchange programs with the University of Vienna and the International Center for Cultural Studies in Vienna.  Faculty serve on the board of the field’s leading journal, Modern Intellectual History. 

Students develop plans of study involving intellectual historians from all three universities.  Thanks to the diversity of faculty, students can explore a wide variety of themes, combining intellectual history with cognate fields in history and other disciplines.  They can apply concepts and insights from economic, literary or political theory, from a range of cultural and religious discourses, from studies of nationality and ethnicity, German, Jewish and Science Studies, philosophy and social theory.  As part of their departmental requirements, all students take the colloquium on the methodology and historiography of intellectual history, offered bi-annually, as well as topical 200-level seminars.  They also take part in the monthly seminar at the NHC, which provides additional intellectual stimulation and opportunities for professional interaction with faculty, distinguished visitors, and NHC fellows.  Students comment on papers by visitors and local faculty, and, at the dissertation stage, present their own work.


Dirk Bonker

Dirk Bonker, Associate Professor in the Department of History

Office: 208 Classroom Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 684-3930

I am a historian of the United States and Germany, who focuses on questions of militarism, warfare, and empire in the long twentieth century. In my work, I also address larger questions about how best to "globalize" and "internationalize" U.S and German histories in the modern age. full profile »

James Gregory Chappel

James Gregory Chappel, Assistant Professor of History

James Chappel is the Hunt Family Assistant Professor of History at Duke University. His first book will appear from Harvard University Press in the Spring of 2018: "Catholic Modern: The Challenge of Totalitarianism and the Remaking of the Church." The book is primarily an intellectual history of... full profile »

Malachi H. Hacohen

Malachi H. Hacohen, Professor of History

Office: 210 Carr Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 684-6819

MALACHI HAIM HACOHEN (Ph.D., Columbia), Bass Fellow and Professor of History, Political Science and Religion, is Director of the Religions and Public Life Initiative at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, and member of the faculties of Slavic and Eurasian, German and Jewish Studies. He teaches... full profile »

Nancy MacLean

Nancy MacLean, William H. Chafe Distinguished Professor of History and Public Policy

Nancy MacLean is an award-winning scholar of the twentieth-century U.S., whose new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, has been described by Publishers Weekly as “a thoroughly researched and... full profile »

Martin A. Miller

Martin A. Miller, Professor of History

Office: 337 Carr Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 684-3575

Professor Miller's interests are in Modern Russian history, the history of psychoanalysis in Russia, and comparative and international terrorist movements. full profile »

William M. Reddy

William M. Reddy, William T. Laprade Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History

Office: 314 Classroom Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 684-2497

Most recent book-- The Making of Romantic Love: Longing and Sexuality in Europe, South Asia, and Japan, 900-1200 CE (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012). Awarded the Pinkney Prize for best book in French History, 2012, by... full profile »