HUMS 192, Intellectuals and Power in Europe

Meeting Time: 
T 9:25-11:15am

Course Description:

The role of intellectuals in politics, with a focus on social, cultural, and political upheavals in Europe during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Whether intellectuals betray a higher spiritual calling when they enter politics or merely strive to put their own theories into practice. Modern answers to the question of why ideas and intellectuals matter.


Led by:

Professor Terence Renaud received his Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Berkeley. Currently he is finishing his first book, New Lefts: The Making of a Radical Tradition, 1930-1970, which argues that the New Left activism that swept across Europe during the 1960s actually drew on radical precedents dating back to the interwar years. By analyzing the historical process by which “new lefts” changed into “old lefts,” the book identifies the patterns of militant behavior, non-party forms of organization, and recurrent theoretical problems that made up the phenomenon of neoleftism. Avant-garde antifascists and anti-authoritarians in Germany, France, Britain, and elsewhere represented the twentieth century’s most creative attempts to transform capitalist society and culture. His work appears in The Historical JournalModern Intellectual History, and New German Critique, and he is preparing a new research project on the subversive metaphor of “the underground.” At Yale he teaches in Directed Studies and offers seminars on the social responsibility of intellectuals, theories and practices of resistance, and modern revolutions.


This course was previously offered in the spring of 2016 and 2017. Testimonials are taken from course evaluations:

  • “When speaking to other undergrads about intellectual history classes at Yale, it is clear that most either love them or hate them. If you find yourself in the former camp, I cannot recommend this class highly enough.”
  • “This course does a fantastic job drawing from a very wide range of texts that have continuous dialogue with one another. I have been in few other seminars where previous readings end up organically coming back up in discussion so often.”
  • “The workload was extremely manageable and Professor Renaud offers awesome feedback to really help you grow as a writer and Historian. Also, listening to him speak will make you smarter, so take this class!”
  • “I absolutely loved the seminar! Terence is amazing, and the reading list was just wonderful! 10 out of 10….one of the best classes I’ve taken at Yale (and I’m a second semester senior). Take it!!”