The Centre was founded in 2002 when Peter Cryle, who had formerly been head of the Department of Romance Languages, joined forces with Ian Hunter, who until then had held his ARC Professorial Fellowship at Griffith University. Together they developed a model for a research program that turned away from a classical history of ideas in order to develop forms of intellectual history that took careful account of the particular circumstances in which ways of thinking emerged. They found models for this in the work of Michel Foucault and in Cambridge school historians such as Quentin Skinner. Initially, they pursued strands of research in the history of sexuality (led by Cryle) and the history of political thought (led by Hunter). Later, as other colleagues with a commitment to intellectual history joined the centre, the history of religious thought took shape as a major strand.     
The Centre pursued research into key areas of intellectual, cultural and literary history, with a strong focus on the early modern period. It had a number of permanent members and postdoctoral researchers working on specific projects, and hosted Faculty fellows for short-term research projects. The Centre organised international conferences, themed public seminars, in-house work in progress seminars, and its members were actively involved in national and international research networks.
Centre faculty were engaged in a number of overlapping research programmes. A number of its members worked on the intellectual history of the early modern period, pursuing projects that explore the scientific, religious, philosophical, and political thought of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In addition to its early modern focus, the Centre conducted research into British literary history. A third major research focus was the history of sexuality and the history of medicine. The work of the Centre was supported by the Australian Research Council, by independent charitable foundations, and by strategic initiatives funding from the University of Queensland.
The Centre maintained strong links with the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and through its Faculty Fellows programme hosted Faculty researchers who spent a period of time in the Centre, typically a semester, pursuing their own research projects. In addition to this scheme, there were a number of Faculty affiliates who contributed in an ongoing way to its programmes. The Centre had a close relationship with the European Philosophy Research Group (EPRG), a group based in the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics which promotes research and interest in European philosophy through conferences and workshops.


Science, Religion, and Philosophy

Professor Peter Harrison’s research focused on the interactions of philosophy, science and religion in the early modern period. He worked on a series of funded projects, including:

  • Science, Progress and History
  • Religion, Naturalism and the Sciences
  • Uses and Abuses of Biology
  • Religion, History and the Secular
British Literary History

Professor Simon During's research combined literary theory, criticism and history. His primary research program explored the relation between literature and religion in the period 1600 - 1945, with a particular focus on Anglicanism. He also worked on ways to theorize and historicise relations between philosophical anthropology and literature. His funded projects included:

  • Anglicanism and the Modernisation of English Literary Culture
  • Secularisation and British Literature, 1600-1800
Religious History

Professor Philip Almond dealt with religious history in seventeenth-century Britain. More recently his recent research focused on witchcraft and demonology.

History of Sexuality

Professor Peter Cryle and Dr Elizabeth Stephens (former CHED Deputy Director) conducted research into the history of European understandings of sexuality. Current projects include a critical genealogy of the idea of normality and a study of representations of medical imaging technologies in the media.

Political and Philosophical Thought

Professor Ian Hunter worked on the history of early modern political, religious and philosophical thought, focusing on the academic culture of the Holy Roman German Empire. His funded projects included:

  • Religion, History and the Secular
Renaissance Historiography

Associate Professor Gary Ianziti worked on the Renaissance intellectual history, with a particular focus on the politics of historiography in pre-Machiavellian Italy. His funded research projects include:

  • Princes, Power, and the Battle for the Past: Official Historiography in Renaissance Italy, 1400-1500

Centre Members

Professor Peter Harrison, FAHA (Director)
Professor Phil Almond, FAHA (Deputy Director)
Ms Narelle Jones (Centre Manager)

Dr Tom Aechtner (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
Dr Diana Barnes (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
Dr Chiara Beccalossi (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
Dr Marina Bollinger (Postdoctoral Resarch Fellow)
Dr Brett Bowden (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
Dr Alexander Cook (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
Dr Sorana Corneanu (G08 European Fellowship)
Emeritus Professor Peter Cryle, Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Academiques, FAHA
Dr Simon Duffy (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
Professor Simon During
Dr Nicholas Heron (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
Dr Ian Hesketh (Senior Research Fellow)
Dr Gary Ianziti
Emeritus Professor Ian Hunter, FAHA
Dr Daniel Midena (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
Dr Michael Ostling (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
Dr Knox Peden (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
Dr Leigh Penman (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
Professor David Saunders (Former Honorary Professor)
Dr Karin Sellberg (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
Associate Professor Elizabeth Stephens (ARC Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
Dr Ryan Walter (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
Dr Heather Wolffram (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)


Michelle Aroney
Sarah Bartels
David Bennett
Andrew Brown
Angi Buettner
Gary Foster
Steven Gil
Kim Hajek
Nicky Jones
Pete Jordan
Andrea Josipovic
Joshua Klose
Irena Larking
Anne Le Guinio
Martyn Lloyd
Andrew Munro
Sheilagh O'Brien
Dean Smith
Annabel Temple-Smith
James Ungureanu
Timothy Wong

Further information on the Centre's activities can be found in its annual reports.