Sydney Intellectual History Network at Western Sydney University

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 Western Sydney University

The Sydney Intellectual History Network at Western Sydney University 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

presented in conjunction with the State Library of New South Wales 

Dr Iain McGilchrist
Friday 20 November 2015, 5.00 pm.  Dixson Room, State Library of New South Wales 
Details of abstract to follow.

Register here to attend this free public lecture.

Symposium: The Divided Brain and Humanistic Inquiry

Monday 23 November and Tuesday 24 November 2015 Western Sydney University Parramatta Campus EA 1.29

CALL FOR PAPERS EXTENDED: Please contact Alison Moore

Papers in this symposium will consider the importance of McGilchrist's work for scholars in the humanities and social sciences. The themes include:

  • possible uptakes of McGilchrist's work on the history of the brain in the humanities and social sciences.
  •  the history of left-right brain science, or in the history of neurology and psychiatry.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • forms of bioscientific-humanistic knowledge nexus.

The program will be available shortly. This is a small symposium but there is room for a small number of participants who are not presenting papers. If you are interested in attending this workshop as a 'spectator participant', please contact Alison Moore.