Conditions of Innovation: Can We Learn from History?

Date: 26 November 2014
Speaker: Prof. Peter Burke


In this lecture Professor Burke will ask a few simple questions but try to go beyond simple answers by taking examples from the past, especially but not exclusively the last 500 years in Europe. What is innovation? (often an adaptation or displacement of earlier ideas, techniques or institutions). Who innovates? (small groups as well as individuals such as exiles and ‘renegades’). What are the main obstacles to innovation? (habit, certain institutions, possibly some cultures). What conditions (places, institutions) favour innovation? Can a tradition of innovation be established?

Speaker Bio

Prof. Peter Burke

Professor Peter Burke Emeritus Professor of Cultural History Cambridge University

Professor Peter Burke studied at Oxford, taught at the new university of Sussex in its early years (1962-79) and then migrated to Cambridge, where he was Professor of Cultural History till his retirement and where he remains a Fellow of Emmanuel College. His best-known books include:

  • Culture and Society in Renaissance Italy
  • Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe
  • The Fabrication of Louis XIV
  • The Social History of Knowledge (2 vols., 2000 and 2012)