Introduction to Conceptual History
Centre for Nordic Studies, University of Helsinki, Concepta: International Research School in Conceptual History and Political Thought and
Standing group on Political Concepts in the European Consortium of Political Research
Finnish and international PhD and advanced Master’s degree students from various academic fields.
Introduction to Conceptual History is a critical journey into the key concepts used in politics and other activities. As such, it will engage and encourage the course members in the use of analytic concepts employed in the social sciences and the humanities. An international team of distinguished scholars and visiting lecturers will discuss methods and practices of conceptual history, and the study of political concepts as a style of theorising about and analysing political and social practices.
The goal of conceptual history is to understand the ways in which concepts and ideas are operationalised in political and social life through the study of their migration, translation, reinterpretation and diffusion through time and space (from the local to the global). Conceptual analysis involves the examination of the larger semantic, discursive, ideological and rhetorical settings in which concepts acquire meaning. It requires familiarity with a variety of approaches to discourse, ideology and rhetoric. These concepts are communicated verbally, in print and through other media.
The course will introduce the main aspects of the theory and methodology of conceptual analysis by discussing the work of scholars such as Reinhart Koselleck, Quentin Skinner, J. G. A. Pocock, Michel Foucault, Pierre Rosanvallon and Dipesh Chakrabarty. Students will be encouraged to use these as tools in their own research projects. Special emphasis is placed on examples of conceptual change, which underlines the inherently contested character of concepts in use. In addition, trends in current scholarship will be explored through case studies presented by course members as well by as invited guests.
The course will be conducted via lectures, discussions and work-in-progress sessions. It welcomes PhD and advanced Master’s degree students from a range of academic disciplines.
The objective is to enable the students to use the methods of conceptual history in their own research.
Course format and teaching methods:
The course seeks to support the students’ thesis word by offering relevant lectures, discussions on course readings and workshops on the participants’ texts.
Means and criteria of assessment:
If students submit the required assignments, read the provided texts and participate in the teaching, they will pass the course.