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  • Date Submitted: 06/13/2011 10:27 PM
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G U E S T E S S AY
What is Happening to the History of Ideas? Donald R. Kelley Journal of the History of Ideas Rutgers—the State University of New Jersey (USA)
“Terzo principal aspetto è una storia d’umane idee. . . .” Vico, Scienza nuova
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The “history of ideas” in this country is now entering its second half-century—at least insofar as its principal vehicle, the Journal of the History of Ideas, is just publishing its fifty-first volume. In its American incarnation the history of ideas has been associated above all with the work of the principal of this journal, Arthur O. Lovejoy, his colleagues, his epigones, and some of his critics.1 Yet ante litteram this field of study
Reprinted with permission from Journal of the History of Ideas, 51 (1990): 3–25. The article has not been copy-edited to conform to the style of Intellectual News, but has been left in its original form. 1 See the recent critical tributes in JHI, 48 (1987), 187– 263; the orthodox summary by Lovejoy’s colleague George Boas, The History of Ideas (New York, 1969); and my survey of the “Horizons of Intellectual History” in JHI, 48, 143–69. Extending that discussion, I o¤er observations made on the basis of my experience (including the reviewing of over 1000 articles submitted to, and the writing of over 1500 notices of “books received” by, the JHI ) during five years as executive editor in succession to Philip P. Wiener, who presided over the Journal during its first forty-five years. Thanks to the current members of the History of Ideas Club founded by Lovejoy at the Johns Hopkins University (including Jerome Schneewind, J. G. A. Pocock, and Orest Ranum) for comments on an earlier version of these remarks (as well as more recent warnings and suggestions by Lewis Beck, Allan Megill, Anthony Grafton, and Bonnie Smith). In this connection...

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