History of ideas
History of Ideas concerns how our conception of the world and cultural performances have been formed and how they have influenced people throughout the ages. Study in this discipline provides a broad education and places many of today's current issues in a broader context. In the History of Ideas, one learns to think independently, through a dialogue with other people of other times and cultures. Recurring themes are relationships such as those of the individual and society, body and soul, sense and emotion, faith and knowing, culture and nature, time and space, male and female, human and machine, art and science, power and morality, and history and the future.
Within Cultural Studies, the History of Ideas is offered as a 30 credits (A-level) introductory course and a continuation course of as many credits (B-level). The introductory course is aimed at anyone who has ever thought about the deeper questions of existence and the basic conditions of human beings and their behaviour. History of Ideas can be an excellent complement or addition to an existing study programme, or an interesting option during the semester when you have the freedom to choose elective subjects. The introductory course can also provide a solid foundation for continuing academic studies, which can, in principle, be of benefit to anyone before they begin to specialise. As the course revolves around general questions about knowledge, science, culture, society and morality, it serves as a general introduction to educational, philosophical and scientific theory, similar to the mandatory introductory courses at US and Norwegian universities.
STUDY PROGRESSION AND EXAMINATION
History of Ideas is included in the main field of study Cultural Studies, which means that intermediate courses in the History of Ideas can be taken in the Culture, Policy and Management Programme and included in a Bachelor’s degree with a major in Cultural Studies. History of Ideas can be taken as individual courses of 7.5 credits each, or, as recommended, as the whole course package corresponding to the A and B levels respectively. Students who wish to study the subject in greater depth may, after completing History of Ideas at A and B levels, take an additional 30 credits in History at C level, focused on the History of Ideas, leading to a Bachelor's degree in History with specialisation in the History of Ideas.
· History of Ideas I, 30 credits
· History of Ideas II, 30 credits
· History III (with specialisation in History of Ideas), 30 credits
independent subject courses in Cultural Studies are also offered with a partial History of Ideas profile, for example evening courses in Nordic studies (15 credits) and Human Rights in Intellectual and Cultural Traditions (7.5 credits).
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF IDEAS?
History of Ideas is an interdisciplinary subject in the humanities which can be located somewhere between philosophy and history. History of Ideas is about the hypothetical world; it is not only about reality as viewed through the lens of concepts and theories, but also from the horizon of dreams and passion. The questions that are studied range from those of the origin of the world, the structure of society, the design of the future, the scope of morality, the driving force of psychology and how our perceptions about ourselves affect our relationship with nature as well as other people. The history of ideas revolves around the history of philosophy, science and political theory, but also includes cultural history, the history of medicine, the history of mentalities, environmental history, the history of education, the history of aesthetics and even the history of history. Traditionally, the focus has been on the ideas of great men and women in the western tradition, but for a few decades, the “history of ideas” of “the people” as well as thought traditions outside Europe have been given more space.
A distinguishing feature of the history of ideas is in part the coherence of a broad group of ideas of different kinds in areas such as philosophy, science, technology, medicine, politics, economics, religion, art, literature and film. Also characteristic of the discipline is the intention of studying these questions in relation to an overall historical context, taking into account both in-depth social structures and more general cultural currents.
Characteristic of the History of Ideas idea is partly the coherent perspective of ideas of different kinds in areas such as philosophy, science, technology, medicine, politics, economics, religion, art, literature and film, and the ambition to study these performances in the context of an overall historical context of taking into account both in-depth social structures and more changing public-cultural currents.
WHY STUDY THE HISTORY OF IDEAS?
As in other subjects in the humanities, storytelling is about discussing universal human issues based on our remaining knowledge about the past. It is often the case that by using a historical perspective to ask questions about the present, we can open up new avenues to understanding. In other words, it can be said that the past is reflected in the present as is the present in representations of the past. It is hoped that a critical distance can be achieved from what might appear, for the present, as obvious and irrefutable. The past is not a finished chapter: Historical knowledge is a condition for imagining our own present and future in new and unexpected ways.
In a society characterised by rapid technological change, a global economy, major migration flows and political polarisation, there is a need for deeper reflection in an area which promotes reflection as well as broader insight to include understanding of the perspectives of the Other. As a learning process, studying the history of ideas is about trying to go beyond the obvious and viewing things in a broader context.
In addition to its educational value, History of Ideas has a very practical value in the labour market. In particular demand are the critical skills that one develops with regard to argumentation, interpretation, assessment, evaluation, analysis, historical reflection, criticism and the ability to conceptualise an overview of a topic and engage in abstract and complex issues.
For more specific guidance, please contact the Cultural Studies subject representative.
FURTHER STUDIES AT KARLSTAD UNIVERSITY
Those students completing a Bachelor's degree in History with specialisation in History of Ideas may continue on to History IV, 30 credits. (This course has no general history of ideas profile, but the essay may be written with this orientation.) With a Bachelor’s degree in either History or Cultural Studies, students are also eligible to apply for the Master’s level course in Gender Studies IV, 30 credits, or continue on to a Master’s in Social Science such as the SAMAS Programme with specialisation in history, which focuses on issues of cultural heritage, how history is used, identity, and intercultural communication. Of course, a Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Studies also fulfils the admission requirements for the 60-credit Master’s Programme in Cultural Studies.
A Master’s degree allows a student to apply for doctoral studies at Karlstad University, for example in History or at the Centre for Research on Sustainable Societal Transformation (CRS) research school. Those who wish to undertake more specific doctoral studies in the History of Ideas have the opportunity to do so at another university. The courses History of Ideas I and II and History III fulfil the admission requirements for a Master’s degree in History of Ideas (offered as distance education at Umeå University, for example), which in turn fulfils the admission requirements for doctoral studies at seven other Swedish universities.