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Our Mission

The IRH-ICUB is a research division of The Research Institute of the University of Bucharest. Our mission is to promote and stimulate outstanding research in the humanities. The institute encourages international projects in disciplines such as history, philology, philosophy, intellectual history and religious studies, as well as interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary projects.

For more details about the ICUB events, please see http://icub.unibuc.ro/

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This week at the IRH-ICUB

Medieval Europe and Beyond

Monday, 10 December, 17h – Chronicles in historical context: patronage, the audience’s expectations, and veracity

The Grant Writing Seminar

Tuesday, 11 December, 18h – Postdoctoral fellowships: how to apply? (the case of the ICUB fellowships and grants)

The Permanent Seminar on Recent Phenomenology

Wednesday, 12 December, 18h

IRH-ICUB Lunchtime Seminar

Thursday, 13 December 2018, 14h – Stathis Psillos (University of Athens), Induction: The history of a Philosophical Problem

Memory: From Brains to Narratives 

Thursday, 13 December, 18h – Dr. Laura Bisaillon (University of Toronto,  IRH-ICUB Visiting Professor), Researching Migrant Materialisms to Correct Official Narratives: Memories of Being Tested for HIV to Immigrate to Canada



Upcoming Events

Reaching out to the world: Eastern European regimes beyond the communist bloc, 28 January 2019

Isomorphism of Knowledge: Scientific Projections on XXth and XXIst Century Literature, 10-11 May 2019

IRH-ICUB Fellowships and Grants – November 2018

The IRH-ICUB is happy to announce the fellowships and grants awarded in November 2018:

Fellowship for Young Researchers:

Ancuța Mortu – Cognitive Processes in Art History: Emerging Psychological Investigations of the Beholder’s Response to Art, (12 months)

Mihaela Șimon – Virtue ethics and moral responsibility in organizations: an Aristotelian account, (12 months)

Ida Valicenti – Discovering an unpublished Benedetto Croce before his publishing of the Anti-fascist intellectuals Manifest, through the exchange of letters with Elena Bacaloglu (1910-1923), (12 months)

Young Researchers Grant (UB):

Silvia-Alexandra Ștefan – From Famagusta to Lepanto: Spain between Cultural Inferiority and Imperial Aggrandizing

Fellowships for visiting professors:

Victor Ivanovici (University of Thessaloniki) – Chestiuni de narratologie (cu aplicare la literatura hispanică), (4 months)

Philosophical Cosmology in Early Modern Europe, 6-7 December 2018

CosmologyWe are glad to announce the workshop “Philosophical Cosmology in Early Modern Europe” which is to take place on December 6-7, at the Institute for Research in Humanities, University of Bucharest (1 Dimitrie Brandza street).

The Workshop focuses on philosophical cosmology in the Renaissance and Early Modern Europe (roughly late sixteenth century – mid-eighteen century). The papers will consist in a diversity of a case-studies, focusing on the interplay between physics, mathematics and theology within individual cosmological projects (e.g. Bacon, Roberval, Kant) and broad cosmological traditions. The workshop is organized as part of the project The Emergence of Mathematical Physics in the Context of Experimental Philosophy (PNIII-P4-ID-PCE 2016-0228, 2017-2019).

Speakers: Pietro Daniel Omodeo (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), Stefano Gulizia (New Europe College, Bucharest) Dana Jalobeanu (ICUB, University of Bucharest), Mihnea Dobre (ICUB, University of Bucharest), Oana Matei (New Europe College), Ovidiu Babeș (ICUB, University of Bucharest), Tinca Prunea-Bretonnet (ICUB, University of Bucharest).

Workshop organized within the project The Emergence of Mathematical Physics in the Context of Experimental Philosophy (PNIII-P4-ID-PCE 2016-0228, 2017-2019).

Thursday, December 6th
Chair: Dana Jalobeanu

15:30 – 16:20 Mihnea Dobre (IRH-ICUB, University of Bucharest): Cartesian Cosmology Between ‘Mosaic Physics’ and Mechanical Philosophy

16:20 – 16:30 Coffee break

16:30 – 17:20 Stefano Gulizia (New Europe College, Bucharest): Nicolaus Andreae Granius: Physics and Cosmology at Helmstedt

Friday, December 7th

Morning session (Chair: Ovidiu Babeș)
9:00 – 9:30 Coffee
9:30 – 10:30 Pietro Daniel Omodeo (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia): Homocentric Astronomy and the Animation of the Heavens: Girolamo Fracastoro beyond Scholastic Psycho-Dynamics

10:30 – 10:40 Coffee break

10:40 – 11:30 Dana Jalobeanu (IRH-ICUB, University of Bucharest): Quantitative estimates, comparative observations and cosmological processes: Francis Bacon’s mathematical inquiries in the Historia densi et rari

11:30 – 12:20 Oana Matei (IRH-ICUB, University of Bucharest): John Evelyn’s cosmology and matter theory in Elysium Britannicum

12:20 – 13:20 Lunch break

Afternoon session (Chair: Oana Matei)
13:20 – 14:10 Ovidiu Babeș (IRH-ICUB, University of Bucharest): The Cosmology of Gilles Personne de Roberval

14:10 – 15:00 Tinca Prunea-Bretonnet (IRH-ICUB, University of Bucharest): Matter and Motion in Kant’s Precritical Cosmology

Reaching out to the world: Eastern European regimes beyond the communist bloc, 28 January 2019

This workshop will bring together researchers working on themes surpassing traditional Cold War narratives about Eastern Europe. By focusing on issues such as multilateralism, East-West relations and the engagement of the socialist regimes with the rest of the world the invited speakers will delve into portraying the initiatives and the strategies engaged by the communist regimes such as Romania in their efforts to establish a voice of their own in the global stage beyond the confines of the communist bloc.

Organiser: Dr. Paschalis Pechlivanis (IRH-ICUB)

Invited speakers: Dr. Angela Romano (European University Institute, Florence), Dr. Laurien Crump (Utrecht University), Adelina Stefan (European University Institute, Florence), Corina Mavrodin (European University Institute, Florence).


14:00 – 16:00 Chair: Dr. Paschalis Pechlivanis

Dr. Angela Romano (PanEur1970s, EUI) – European Socialist Countries Vis-à-Vis the 1970s Globalising Trends: The Pan-European cooperation option.

Dr. Laurien Crump (Utrecht University) – ‘Enemies of Détente’? Eastern European Strategies for Securing Europe through the CSCE.

16:00 – 16:30 Coffee break

16:30 – 18:30 Chair: Dr. Paschalis Pechlivanis

Dr. Adelina Stefan (PanEur1970s, EUI) – Bridging Europe during the Cold War: International tourism as ‘soft diplomacy’ in socialist Romania of the 1960s and the 1980s.

Dr. Corina Mavrodin (Max Weber Fellow, EUI) – Stepping out onto the Global Stage: Romania and the UN General Assembly, 1960.

The Overlooked History of Vegetal Life. From the Vegetative Soul to Metabolism in Early Modern Philosophy and Biomedicine

Project code: PN-III-P1-1.1-PD-2016-1496

Principal investigator: Dr. Fabrizio Baldassarri  —   (personal website)(academia)

Abstract. This research project aims to delve into a mostly overlooked topic of the history of philosophy and the history of sciences, the philosophical role attributed to vegetation for the understanding of life in early modern Europe. During the Renaissance and early modernity the questions concerning living beings became particularly controversial, as life phenomena difficultly matched the Scholastic interpretative programme attributing life to souls and spirits, and substantiating the academic knowledge of the epoch. From mechanical philosophy to alchemical traditions, alternative systems developed different interpretations of life, resulting in fiercest clashes without a clear and definite solution. Life apparently remained an undefinable, though crucial feature of philosophy and biomedicine. An innovative role within this controversial situation was provided by vegetal studies, as plants silently witnessed life in beings. This was not an untraditional claim, as the Scholastic tradition conceived life starting with the vegetative faculties of the soul. However, it is only during the 16th and 17th centuries that vegetal studies acquired a more crucial condition in this respect, as a change from the vegetative soul to metabolism characterized the biomedical revolution concerning life. While plants emerged as compelling items of knowledge – the Botanical Renaissance composed a relevant section of the naturalistic studies of the period through collecting and classifications of natural, vegetal diversities – a philosophical interpretation of plants as representing the minimal level of vitality led studies to important and fascinating attempts to redefine life. This project seeks to reconstruct this section of the history of vegetal life especially focusing on René Descartes’ and the Cartesian’s attempts. Related to the botanical and medical work in the United Provinces, an early modern vegetal philosophy emerges, resulting in a crucial philosophical interpretation of life.

Project development for 2018

Published or forthcoming papers:

  1. “Descartes’ Bio-Medical Study of Plants: Vegetative Activities, Soul, and Power”, in Early Science and Medicine, vol. 23/5-6, 2018, pp. 509-529.
  2. “I moti circolari nella meccanica della vita in Descartes: embriologia e nutrizione nella medicina e nella botanica”, in Physis: Rivista di Storia della scienza, 2018, forthcoming. [in Italian]
  3. “The Mechanical Life of Plants: Descartes on Botany”, in British Journal for the History of Science, forthcoming.

Fascicle of journal:

  1. 1. Manipulating Flora: Seventeenth-Century Botanical Practices and Natural Philosophy, ed. by F. Baldassarri, O. Matei, in Early Science and Medicine (Brill), vol. 23/5-6, Winter 2018. (Forthcoming.)

Book review:

  1.  G. Manning, C. Klestinec (eds.), Professors, Physicians and Practices in the History of Medicine: Essays in Honor of Nancy Siraisi, Cham., Springer, 2017, on Gesnerus: Swiss Journal of the History of Medicine and Science, forthcoming, vol. 75/2 (2018).

Event organization:

  1. Session Organization for the History of Science Society (HSS) Annual Meeting, Seattle (US). 1-4 November 2018

Panel title: “Plants as Case Study in the History of Philosophy, Science, and Medicine”.


  1. Report Title: “Plants as Models in Early Modern Medicine: The Case of Jean Riolan the Younger, William Harvey, and Marcello Malpighi”, panel session: “Plants as Case Study in the History of Philosophy, Science, and Medicine” – Speaker at: HSS Annual Meeting. Seattle, Washington. November 1-4, 2018.
  2. Report Title: “A Green Thread from Galen to the Early Modern Medicine: The Analogy between Animals and Plants” (website) – Speaker at Galen and the Early Moderns, Ca’ Foscari University, Venice (Italy). Organized by Matteo Favaretti Camposampiero and Emanuela Scribano. October 25-26, 2018.

Scientific report for 2018


Project Code: PN-III-P1-1.1-PD-2016-0142

Project Acronym: POLIQUID

Contract no.: 21 ⁄ 2018

Principal Investigator: Ph.D. Ștefan Firică


Within the rich landscape of the interwar period, political fiction has always been pushed to the margins by the major literary critics and historians. The interest in the genre was rekindled with the rise of cultural studies, eager to find in its hybridity – as a mix of ideology and art – a form suitable to address the complexity of the modern social texture. This project aims to delve into the phenomenon of Romanian political fiction of the 1920s-1930s, with the tools of literary and cultural studies, advocating for an integrative approach, in line with the latest developments in the field of research. On the one hand, given the cosmopolitan nature of the genre, tending to melt together ideological and literary patterns with a wave-like diffusion in various cultures, political fiction calls for being strongly linked to the system of world literature. Novels by Mircea Eliade, Mihail Sebastian, Gherasim Luca a.s.o. can be fruitfully interpreted only if (re-)connected to a pan-European network of doctrinal intertextual references. A comparative perspective, opening the borders of national literary history to the context of European literary histories, is thus needed. On the other, the present approach tries to shed light on the intimate relationship between political fiction and identity. Ultimately, modern political narratives result in the unsettling question about the QUID (i.e. ”the essence”) of the individual or the community. The issues of ”Who am I?” or ”Who are we?” lay at the core of the heroes’ quests. Interwar political literature, still strongly echoing in today’s public and private discourses, can help us look into the long-lived mechanisms of (un)making our identity / identities (national, ethnic, religious, social etc.). Ultimately, in times when diversity has to face new challenges, this project is intended as a contribution to the critical reassessment of our cultural heritage.

Principal Investigator:

Ștefan Firică has a Ph.D. from the University of Bucharest, with the thesis ”Authenticity”. Theories and Applications in the Interwar Romanian Literature (2014). He is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Bucharest, Faculty of Letters, Department of Literary Studies. He was a postdoctoral researcher (2014-2015), with the project Strategies of (De-)Constructing Identities in the Interwar Romanian Prose, as a beneficiary of the European Project SOP HRD /159/1.5/S/136077 ”Romanian Culture and European Cultural Models: Research, Synchronization, Sustainability”Romanian Academy, Philology – Literature. He also worked as a Research Assistant (2011-2014) in the PN-II-ID-PCE-2011-3-0913 Project MARIS – Migration and Reshaping Identities in Romanian Travel Writings (1960-2010), University of Bucharest, “Tudor Vianu” Centre of Interdisciplinary Research in European and Romanian Cultural Studies (CISCER), project manager: Liviu Papadima. He authored a book, Strategii ale (de)construcției identitare în proza românească interbelică, and dozens of articles in scientific reviews, collective volumes, and cultural magazines.

Project Development

1 May – 31 December 2018:



  • Ștefan Firică, Between Friends. An Interwar Ideological Dialogue, in Journal of Romanian Literary Studies, no. 14, 2018, p. 298-303 (here).


  • Identity, Hierarchy, Equality. An Application on the Romanian Interwar Modernism, in the 2nd International CEMS Conference “Temporalities of Modernism”, 2-4 May 2018, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj (http://tempcems.conference.ubbcluj.ro/).



Early Modern Cosmology Between “Mosaic Physics” and Mechanical Philosophy (1650-1713)

Project Code: PN-III-P1-1.1-TE-2016-0710

Principal Investigator: Mihnea Dobre

Abstract. This project explores the intermixture of several disciplines in the formation of “the new science” in the early modern period, spanning from Descartes’s death in 1650 up to the second edition of Newton’s Principia in 1713. It aims to show how philosophy, physics, and theology grounded new cosmologies and mingled in one coherent enterprise. Our proposal challenges the current focus on the Newtonian critique of Descartes’s vortex-model of the world. It argues that a new perspective upon the relations between Cartesianism and Newtonianism emerges by looking at early modern reconstructions of the Biblical account of Creation in mechanical terms. We analyse Descartes’s justificatory accounts in his correspondence, where he states that his physics is compatible with the Creation story from Genesis. Furthermore, we explore how these statements were developed by his early followers who were seeking to formulate a “Mosaic physics.” Our project examines this neglected episode of the publication and reception of several treatises comparing the Mosaic history of Creation with the new Cartesian philosophy. Beyond filling this gap in the study of early modern cosmology, our approach has a twofold advantage. First, it offers a source-oriented analysis of the “Mosaization” of Cartesian philosophy, bringing into the spotlight a series of currently lesser-known cosmological treatises which were very successful at their time and, thus, contributed to the spread of Cartesian philosophy. Second, it shows how Cartesianism – broadly understood – was a source of inspiration for cosmogonical and cosmological speculations even for figures who otherwise abandoned the Cartesian system, such as the early Newtonians. Thus, the project has a broader scope and our study of early modern cosmologies opens novel prospects for understanding the intricate early modern debates about religion, natural philosophy, and metaphysics.


Research Team:

Mihnea Dobre (Principal Investigator)mihnea-dobre is teaching and doing research at the University of Bucharest. He has a PhD in philosophy (Radboud University Nijmegen and University of Bucharest), and his research interest is in the history of philosophy and science. He works on the various aspects of the early modern period, with a focus on the relations between philosophy, science, and religion. He is the author of a monograph on Descartes and Early French Cartesianism: between metaphysics and physics (Zeta Books, 2017) and co-editor of the Cartesian Empiricisms volume (Springer, 2013). For a list of Dobre’s publications and conference papers, see his page. He is the book review editor at the Centaurus, An International Journal of the History of Science and its Cultural Aspects. Dobre is the PI of this project.

Grigore Vida grigoreis a historian of the philosophy and science of the early modern period, member of the Research Center “Foundations of Modern Thought” and of the Center for Logic, History and Philosophy of Science (both at the University of Bucharest).He has a PhD in philosophy from the University of Bucharest with the thesis Metaphysics and Natural Philosophy in Isaac Newton(2011). He has worked within a team on a Romanian edition of Descartes’ complete correspondence, and has also contributed to translations from the works of Francis Bacon. His main interest is the relation between metaphysics, natural philosophy and mathematics in the works of scientifically minded philosophers of the 17th century. In this project, he will investigate the interaction between Cartesianism and Newtonianism, the debate between Descartes and Henry More, and the cosmological project of Thomas Burnet.

img018Ovidiu Babeș is PhD student at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest, writing a dissertation on the relation between mathematics and natural philosophy in Descartes’s works. His main area of research interest is in the history of early modern science (including here natural philosophy, history of mathematics, the rise of experimental philosophy). He has worked on topics such as early modern doctrines of demonstration, the status of mixed-mathematical disciplines within the Aristotelian division of sciences, Descartes’s optics and mechanics, the establishment of the Royal Society, and John Wilkins’s cosmology.

Bogdan-Antoniu Deznan (Doctoral Student)Bogdan Deznan is a PhD candidate at the University of Bucharest. He is also a research associate of the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Platonism (University of Cambridge). The topic of his doctoral dissertation is the concept of deification in the thought of the Cambridge Platonists (primarily Benjamin Whichcote, John Smith, Henry More, and Ralph Cudworth) and how this issue relates to the larger early modern theological and philosophical contexts. His primary research interests concern the history of theological and philosophical ideas in the early modern period, the appropriation of Patristic and Platonic/Neoplatonic sources in the seventeenth century, the theological underpinnings of natural philosophy, and the interplay between metaphysical and theological discourses.



Project development

October 2018

  • Research seminars

November 2018

  • Research seminars

December 2018

The Grant Writing Seminar, 2018-2019

Organized by: Lorena Anton, Mihnea Dobre.

The Grant Writing Seminar is an established series at the ICUB. It aims to provide a venue for humanities and social sciences researchers to meet, share their experiences, receive hands-on advice on grant writing, and collaborate on their grant applications for national and European calls. The series is addressed primarily to researchers in the early stages of their career, but we welcome participation of more experienced researchers. It is hoped that out of this workshop series a small community of researchers will emerge who will continue to offer mutual support for grant applications through constructive criticism and peer-review.

We encourage discussions about future international grant applications that will be hosted by the ICUB.

The meetings of the Grant Proposal series take place every month.

For attending the meetings of the Grant Proposal series, please fill in the registration form.

Draft program (Tuesday, 18:00-20:00):

13 November 2018
Roundtable discussion and the outline of the series.

11 December 2018
Postdoctoral fellowships: how to apply? (the case of the ICUB fellowships and grants)

January 2019
From individual fellowships to grants

February 2019
Aims, templates, and submission forms: understanding specific calls

March 2019
How to apply? Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA)

April 2019
How to apply? ERC (Starting & Consolidator)

May 2019
How to plan your project? WPs, actions, deliverables, and outreach

June 2019
Find the balance: the scientific excellence and the feasibility of the project

Past events