Sydney Intellectual History Network @ UWS

The Sydney Intellectual History Network is an interdisciplinary historical initiative that aims to bring together scholars whose research expertise historicises knowledge structures and habits of thought, ethical and religious ideals, historiographical theories, scholarly cultures of the past, as well as philosophical, scientific, legal and political ideas and any other styles of intellectual history not already imagined here. The term 'intellectual history' is used in a broad-ranging sense that embraces work from numerous perspectives, providing a forum for discussion of shared historicist methodological and epistemological concerns.

The Sydney Intellectual History Network currently has two nodes; the first, SIHN@UWS and the second, SIHN@Sydney(opens in a new window). Both have been supported by internal grants from each university. We hope to see similar strengths acknowledged at other universities and to develop collaborative activities with them.


Visiting Expert Iain McGilchrist at UWS

The Sydney Intellectual History Network @ UWS is delighted to bring to Sydney Dr Iain McGilchrist, internationally renowned British psychiatrist and scholar of the nexus between neuroscience and the history of ideas. Iain McGilchrist is the bestselling author of The Mastery and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World (Yale University Press, 2012) - a scientific study that simultaneously explores the unique features of humanistic inquiry in a biography of the brain in Western civilisation. In addition to being a comprehensive review of the science of left and right brain function, it is a meta-history of the rationalist and bureaucratic trends of Western thought and their effects on neurophysiology.To date it has sold over 60,000 copies worldwide and has been positively reviewed by the Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian, The American Journal of Psychiatry, The British Medical Journal, The Sunday Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Financial Times, The Independent, the Observer, Contemporary Review, The Huffington Post and numerous other reputable international presses and journals. Iain McGilchrist is one of the leading pioneers of a new interdisciplinary perspective that crosses between the bio-medical sciences and the humanities.  As such, his work appears to indicate a path toward transcendence of the tired dichotomies that are still often proposed between cultural and biological influences on human behaviour, expression and experience.

Two major events will occur during the visit.

Public Lecture: The Divided Brain in Western Culture

Dr Iain McGilchrist

Friday 20 November 2015, 6.00 pm. Dixson Room, State Library of New South Wales 

Details of abstract to follow. Registrations for this event will be open shortly.

Symposium: The Divided Brain and Humanistic Inquiry

Monday and Tuesday 23-24 November, UWS Parramatta Campus


Papers of 30 minutes duration are invited for this symposium around the importance of McGilchrist's work for scholars in the humanities and social sciences. We are interested in all papers by humanistic or social science scholars addressing the themes of McGilchrist's work. In particular, we are keen to hear from:

  • Scholars who have identified possible uptakes of McGilchrist's work on the history of the brain in the humanities and social sciences.
  • Scholars specialised in the history of left-right brain science, or in the history of neurology and psychiatry.
  • Scholars of the comparative history of religion, or of non-Western cultures, reflecting on the differences across cultures in the values placed on creativity, spirituality, social bonds, or on logic, bureaucracy and political power. 
  • Scholars with expertise in the history of philosophy, literature or political thought who wish to engage with the account of the history of Western ideas and culture proposed in McGilchrist's The Master and His Emissary.
  • Scholars specialising in forms of bioscientific-humanistic knowledge nexus.

All relevant proposals are welcome.Symposium papers should be original and not committed for publication elsewhere, as an edited volume of scholarly papers is planned to follow from the event. Please send an abstract (300-400 words) and brief biography to Alison Moore before 1 June 2015. Successful applicants will be notified by 1 July 2015.