Author Archives: Institute for Research in the Humanities

About Institute for Research in the Humanities

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.

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.


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.

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

Digital Humanities, 2018-2019

The series on Digital Humanities (DH) hosted by the IRH-ICUB is a place to gather scholars interested to discuss projects combining traditional scholarship in the humanities with the use of digital tools. The series focuses on examples of good practice in DH, discussing case studies, digital tools, or large digital projects. Topics for the next academic year include, but they are not limited to:

  • How to deal with the data?
  • From computational linguistics to digital humanities.
  • Digital forms of publication.
  • How to build a DH project?
  • Visualization technology

The meetings of the DH series will take place every month. The series is organized by Mihnea Dobre. For questions about the program, please send a message at

Please register for attending the meetings. For registration, please send a message to


November 2018
1 November (11:00-13:00), Gabriel Hancean (Social Sciences Division, ICUB), Research notes on whole, ego and personal networks. Lessons learnt from the iCoNiC research project

December 2018
3 December (11:30-13:00), Verginica Barbu Mititelu (Romanian Academy Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence), On the Reference Corpus of the Contemporary Romanian Language (CoRoLa).

Past events
Digital Humanities, 2017-2018
Roundtable discussions on Digital Humanities, 2016-2017

Medieval Europe and Beyond

Convenors: Marian Coman and Ionuț Epurescu-Pascovici

This research working group is intended as a venue for historians, social scientists, and philosophers interested in discussing recent developments in the study of medieval Europe. Comparisons between Latin Europe, Byzantium, and Islam, and between late antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the early modern period are encouraged. The research group is not limited to medievalists but open to colleagues in other fields.

Monthly meetings include roundtable discussions of recent scholarship, readings of primary sources, methodological seminars, and presentations of work in progress. Working languages are Romanian and English.

2018/2019 academic year, 1st semester: Narratives

Chronicles and histories have been the privileged sources of research into the medieval past, only partly displaced in the last half century by medievalists’ growing appetite for charters and institutional records. More generally, a narrative element is inherent in most medieval written accounts; even charters and diplomas would sometimes relate a story in their prologue as backdrop for the dispositive clauses. The pitfalls of approaching narratives as transparent windows into the past are now clear, hence medievalists’ increased attention to the performative and culturally-constructed nature of our sources. In this spirit, the seminar will discuss the impact of genre conventions, auctorial agendas, and the expectations of the audience. Participants are invited to bring to the roundtable discussions their own experience and concerns with narrative sources. Lastly, we will consider the role of story-telling – in contrast with ‘analysis’ – in our own writing about the past.

Monthly meetings on Monday at 17.00 at ICUB (Str. Dimitrie Brândză nr. 1)

22 October – Introductory roundtable: from ancient to modern historical narratives

  • Ginzburg, Threads and Traces: True, False, Fictive: Intro and ch. 1, pp. 1-24;
  • Ricoeur, Time and Narrative: vol. 1, ch. 4 ‘Threefold mimesis’, pp. 52-76;
  • Davis, Fiction in the Archives: pp. 1-11, 15-25, 36-48.

26 November – Roundtable discussion of Gregory of Tours

  • Auerbach, Mimesis: ch. 4, pp. 77-95;
  • Goffart, Narrators of Barbarian History: ch. 3, pp. 112-19, 153-74, 183-97, 203-34.

Iulia Nițescu (IRH-ICUB), ‘Narratives of identity in late-fifteenth-century Muscovite dynastic marriages’

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

  • Spiegel, Romancing the Past, pp. 1-14, 20-23, 53-54, 214-68;
  • Madgearu, Romanians in Gesta Hungarorum, pp. 21-41, 86-105.

Past events:

2017/2018 – Understanding Medieval Violence

2016/2017 – From Lordship to State

Internship 2018-2019

Secțiunea de Științe Umaniste a Institutului de Cercetare a Universității din București anunță deschiderea a două posturi de interni (stagiari), în regim de voluntariat. Acești voluntari interni se vor ocupa de organizarea și promovarea evenimentelor ICUB (conferințe, școli de vară, seminarii de cercetare), vor face muncă de secretariat și de comunicare cu publicul.

Perioada de voluntariat este de 3 – 6 luni, cu posibilitate de prelungire. Pentru a deveni intern al ICUB, voluntarii trebuie să îndeplinească următoarele condiții:

– sa fie masteranzi sau absolvenți de master, sau doctoranzi într-una din specializările reprezentate în Institut (secțiunea de științe umaniste)

– să aibă un interes susținut pentru activitatea de cercetare

– să cunoască foarte bine cel puțin o limbă de circulație internațională

– să fie dinamici, activi și dornici de a lucra în echipă

Pe perioada de voluntariat, internul voluntar va fi integrat în echipa ICUB, lucrând atât cu coordonatorul secțiunii, managerii de proiecte și administratorul de secțiune cât și cu bursierii străini și profesorii invitați. La încheierea perioadei de voluntariat va primi o adeverință din partea Universității din București și eventuale recomandări pentru aplicații ulterioare.

Pentru a aplica, cei interesați trebuie să trimită un CV și o scrisoare de intenție, în limba engleză, la, până la data de 21 septembrie 2018.

Mathematizing Physics or Physicalizing Mixed Mathematics?, 1–2 October 2018

Afis MathemathicsInvited speaker: John Schuster (University of Sydney)

The workshop is organized under the framework of the national research grant (code: PN-III-P4-ID-PCE-2016-0228), “The emergence of mathematical physics in the context of experimental philosophy.”

The history of the emergence of modern science is still very much about how natural philosophy became mathematical. But the classical narrative about the “mathematization of nature” (at least in the Koyré version) has become somewhat obsolete, with its claims about a replacement of the Aristotelian view with the Platonic one, which recognized a mathematical structure of reality.

Besides “physico-mathematics”, however, there was another form of “blending” mathematics with physics, sometimes called by its practitioners “mathematical physics”, which has remained very much understudied until today. It emerged out of an experimental context and can be contrasted with the “physico-mathematical” approach: while the latter starts with usually strong metaphysical presuppositions, mixing axioms of mathematics with axioms or principles of natural philosophy, “mathematical physics” is a much more bottom-up procedure, in which mathematical objects are constructed trough measurement and quantification. It shows that Thomas Kuhn’s division between the mathematical and experimental traditions is too rigid, since the two could, in fact, nurture each other. John Schuster has proposed an important view, according to which it is more appropriate to speak about a “physicalization” of the mixed mathematical sciences instead of a mathematization of physics.

More details here.