Intellectual History

Intellectual History Concentration

Fall 2023 Intellectual History Courses

Intellectual History investigates the history of human thought, culture, and expression— in short, the things that have allowed human beings, alone among the species, to mediate their relationship to the natural world with their minds and their media of communication.  It includes a central concern with the texts that have helped to shape human history, with intellectual communities, with the great debates within and across cultures, and with the history of all forms of human expression, including the visual arts and music.  It is a field that offers contact with other minds in other times, places, and contexts.  Intellectual History at Penn is taught from a stimulating diversity of perspectives, and the concentration allows you to use courses from a great variety of departments to fit your own particular interests and curiosity.


The concentration in Intellectual History requires six courses:

SEMINAR (1 COURSE) Any course numbered HIST 2100-3799 that is classified as Intellectual History on the "Courses" page automatically satisfies this requirement. Below is a list of recently offered Intellectual History seminars. 

  • HIST 2200 Florence in History
  • HIST 2201 The City of Rome: From Constantine to the Borgias
  • HIST 2202 Taking Things: A History of Property and Law
  • HIST 2203 Introduction to Print Culture
  • HIST 2204 Food and Diet in Early Europe: Farm to Table in the Renaissance
  • HIST 2251 Machiavelli and Modern Political Thought
  • HIST 2252 European Intellectual History since 1945
  • HIST 2253 Human Rights and History
  • HIST 3252 Marx, Nietzsche, Freud: Masters of Suspicion
  • HIST 3600 Human Rights in the Age of Revolutions
  • HIST 3708 History of Truth


  • HIST 1200 (formerly 143) Foundations of European Thought
  • HIST 1201 Foundations of Law
  • HIST 1205 Reading the Classics
  • HIST 1250 (formerly 144) Belief and Unbelief in Modern Thought
  • HIST 1260 (formerly 333) Tolstoy's War and Peace and the Age of Napoleon
  • HIST 1230 (formerly 313) French Revolution and the Origins of Modern Politics
  • HIST 1733 (formerly 133) Free Speech and Censorship
  • HIST 3820 (formerly 308) Renaissance Europe
  • HIST 3922 (formerly 343) Nineteenth Century European Intellectual History
  • HIST 3923 (formerly 344) Twentieth Century European Intellectual History
  • HIST 2203 (formerly 411) Intro to Print Culture


Other history courses that may be counted toward the intellectual history concentration include the following:

  • HIST 0877 (formerly 035) Modern Biology and Social Implications
  • HIST 0823 (formerly 047) Portraits of Russian Society
  • HIST 1630 (formerly 118) Witchcraft & Possession
  • HIST 1610 (formerly 140) Medieval and Early Modern Jewry
  • HIST 1760 (formerly 160) Strategy, Policy, and War
  • HIST 1119 (formerly 168) History of American Law to 1877
  • HIST 1169 (formerly 169) History of American Law since 1877
  • HIST 0723 (formerly 211) The Enlightenment
  • HIST 1350 (formerly 275) Faces of Jihad
  • HIST 0722 (formerly 251) Marriage and the Novel

Note: New intellectual history courses may appear before they are added to this list. Please see your advisor if you find a course that you believe should appear on this list of intellectual history courses.

Electives may also include up to two "major-related" courses (i.e., those taken in other departments). These major-related courses must focus on the history of human thought, culture, and expression, be above the introductory level, and they must be approved in consultation with your faculty advisor. You will need to explain how these major-related courses contribute to your concentration in terms of depth, breadth, or geographic or chronological range. Courses taught in the following departments may be eligible: Africana Studies; Anthropology; Art History; Classical Studies; East Asian Languages and Civilizations; English; Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies; Germanic Languages; History and Sociology of Science; Middle Eastern Studies; Music; Philosophy; Political Science; Religious Studies; Romance Languages; Slavic Languages; South Asia Studies; Women's Studies. Pre-approved major-related courses include PHIL 1110 (formerly 003) Ancient Greek Philosophy and PHIL 1170 (formerly 004) History of Modern Philosophy. 

Faculty Advisors