Intellectuals and intelligentsia

This course is part of the programme
Doctoral study programme Humanities

Objectives and competences

Students are able to independently investigate a scientifically verified method of intellectual history and embed the results of their work into the context of political history, history of mentalities, social history, and other disciplines such as sociology, literary history and social anthropology. They will become credible authors of scientific papers from these areas, and will be able to participate in a multidisciplinary polylogue.


Basic requirements for this course is the completed graduate study course. Basic English proficiency is required as well as minimum knowledge of the main European languages that allows critical reception of sources and relevant works for the discussion of problems at hand.

Active participation is required in the course (discussions based on sources) and the writing of scientific papers.

Lectures synthetically address the most important transformation of the position and role of the intellectual in a public space during the period of modernization (and earlier, comparatively); they are conceived as a prelude to an independent analytical work. Therefore, students are expected to express adequate knowledge of the subject before the seminar work in the form of active participation in lectures and discussions on the topic of problem thereof.


The course addresses the position and role of intellectuals in modern Europe, and transformation of both. The role of intellectuals in the articulation of the leading ideas of the revolutions of the 19th century is dicussed, as well as the ideas opposed to revolutions. Attention is devoted to general reflections on the current situation, and concepts of history and the future. In the 20th century, characterized by the emergence of the so-called public intellectual, intellectuals’ role becomes even more visible. Intertwining of artistic creativity and political engagement culminates at the end of the Second World War; later periods are characterized by the aspiration to exercise narrowly specialized professionalism which calls into question the concept of public intellectuals.
Particular attention is paid to the concept of intelligentsia, which, as a class and as a concept appears in Russia in the 19th century. The autocratic empire influenced intellectuals as a separate opposition group in the country and emigration to which intellectual advocates of the authorities never belonged even though their artistic creativity or reflective potential often matched that of intelligentsia, which particularly evident in the cases of F. M. Dostoevsky and K. P. Pobedonostsev. In a socialist world intelligentsia was (despite changed conditions) still seen as a separate social stratum whose members are characterized by criticism or even opposition to the regime.

Intended learning outcomes

Students come into contact with the main currents of thought in the period of modernization and transformation as well as their interactions. They learn about the relationship between the wider environment and the position of the intellectual conceptions in open and closed societies. Through independent research work they complement the existing research results and come to understand the role and position of intellectuals in the public space.


  • Marvin Perry, An Intellectual History of Modern Europe, Houghton Mifflin, 1993. E-version
  • William Johnston, The Austrian Mind: An Intellectual and Social History, 1848–1938, University of California Press, 1983. E-version
  • Jeremy Jennings, Kemp-Welch, Anthony (ur.): Intellectuals in Politics: From the Dreyfus Affair to Salman Rushdie, Routledge, 1997. E-version
  • Julien Benda, La Trahison des clercs, Les Cahiers rouges, Grasset, 2003.Catalogue E-version
  • Richard Pipes (ur.), The Russian Intelligentsia, Columbia Univ. Press 1961. E-version
  • Isaiah Berlin, Ruski misleci, Beletrina 2014.
  • Richard Posner, Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline, Harvard University Press, 2002. Catalogue E-version


Seminar paper. Oral exam. The seminar paper is conditional for the admittance to the exam.

Lecturer's references

Igor Grdina:
1965 Born in Celje;
1991 University in Ljubljana: MA (Slovenian Literature);
1994 University in Ljubljana: Ph.D. (Literary Sciences);
2002 University in Ljubljana: Ph.D. (History);
2004 University in Ljubljana: Full Professor of Slovenian Literature;
2004 Research Advisor (Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts);
2006 University in Nova Gorica: Full Professor of Cultural History.
He was a visiting professor at the University of Vienna (2 semesters) and a guest lecturer at the Universities of Tübingen, Graz, Klagenfurt, Maribor, and Koper. He attended about 20 scientific
conferences (in Slovenia, Moscow, Kőszeg, Szeged, Rime in Prague).

Selected bibliography:

Grdina, I. Od Brižinskih spomenikov do razsvetljenstva. Obzorja, 1999.
Grdina, I. Od rodoljuba z dežele do meščana, (Studia humanitatis, Apes, 13). Studia humanitatis, 1999.
Grdina, I. Vladarji, lakaji, bohemi, (Studia humanitatis, Apes, 13 bis). Studia humanitatis, 2001.
Grdina, I. Preroki, doktrinarji, epigoni: idejni boji na Slovenskem v prvi polovici 20. stoletja. ICK, 2005.
Grdina, I. Med dolžnostjo spomina in razkošjem pozabe: kulturnozgodovinske študije. ZRC SAZU, 2006.
Grdina, I. Moč umetnosti in sila politike. ICK, 2007.
Grdina, I., Ura kirasirjev: tri študije o Stendhalovi umetnosti romana (Zbirka Zbiralnik, 19). Inštitut za civilizacijo in kulturo - ICK, 2013.
Grdina, I., Iz biedermeierskega albuma, (Zbirka Zbiralnik, 22). Inštitut za civilizacijo in kulturo - ICK, 2014.
Grdina, I., Muze in pepel: tri študije o vojnem ustvarjanju (Zbirka Zbiralnik, 23). ICK - Inštitut za civilizacijo in kulturo, 2014.