Academic journal article Journal of the History of Ideas

Ideas in Context at 100

Academic journal article Journal of the History of Ideas

Ideas in Context at 100

Article excerpt

Introduction

The publication of Christopher Bayly's Recovering Liberties: Indian Thought in the Age of Liberalism and Empire at the end of 2011 marked the one hundredth volume in the Ideas in Context series. Retrospection loves an even number, and although the ever-productive Cambridge University Press series has already marched past that milestone, it seemed a perfect moment to reflect on one of the great publishing ventures in the history of our discipline. Launched in 1984 with Philosophy in History: Essays in the Historiography of Philosophy, edited by the original editorial board of Richard Rorty, Jerome B. Schneewind, and Quentin Skinner, the series quickly became a choice address for intellectual historians publishing in English. Since Ideas in Context-as its collective title indicates-reflected the methods and concerns of the so-called "Cambridge School," it was fitting that volume two was a collection of essays by John Pocock, who along with Skinner is considered one of the two shapers of the Cambridge approach to the study of the history of ideas. Not surprisingly, the Cambridge School's shaping themes are reflected in many of the monographs in "Ideas in Context"-a focus on the history of political thought, concern with the career of republicanism and its various ideological challengers, a tendency to study secular political ideas in isolation from religion, preoccupation with early modern Europe and a predilection for a canon of Western European and English authors situated within a thick contextual web of arguments, languages, and texts. …

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