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David L. Marshall

  • Professor


  • PhD, The Johns Hopkins University


I am an intellectual historian who is especially interested in the long history of rhetoric. I’ve completed two books that study two important chapters in that history. The first book is focused on the eighteenth-century Neapolitan thinker Giambattista Vico. Vico and the Transformation of Rhetoric in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 2010) takes up the question of what happens to rhetoric when it is transposed into a society where oratory does not appear to be a politically decisive practice. The second book looks at receptions and reinventions of rhetoric among German thinkers between 1918 and 1933. The Weimar Origins of Rhetorical Inquiry (Chicago, 2020) argues for the importance of work by Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, and Aby Warburg that embeds radically changed versions of rhetoric in the foundations of contemporary disciplines such as philosophy, political science, literary criticism, and the history and theory of art.

As I practice and teach it, intellectual history is a study of presuppositions in inquiry, and this means that for me historical work is theoretical work and vice versa. I’ve laid out an account of intellectual history as a method in a series of articles (including “The Implications of Robert Brandom’s Inferentialism for Intellectual History” and “Intellectual History, Inferentialism, and the Weimar Origins of Political Theory). I’ve also developed two seminars to make this method available to others: “Inventing Your Tradition” for graduate students; and “Invention” for undergraduates. Currently, I’m developing an articulation of this practice as “contemporary intellectual history.” Intellectual history is concerned with where, when, how, and why ideas emerge and change.  Contemporary intellectual history focuses on taking up someone who is important to your own work in order to think about what to adopt, adapt, and/or reject. This is a method that anyone in any discipline can employ to good effect.

I’m also Co-Director of the Humanities Center at the University of Pittsburgh with Carla Nappi.



  • ----             “Warburgian Maxims for Visual Rhetoric,” Rhetoric Society Quarterly (forthcoming)
  • ----             “Giambattista Vico, Aphorism, and Aphoristic Machines,” The Italianist (forthcoming)
  • 2017         “Intellectual History, Inferentialism, and the Weimar Origins of Political Theory,” Journal of the Philosophy of History 11 (2017): 170-195
  • 2017         “Rhetorical Trajectories from the Early Heidegger,” Philosophy and Rhetoric 50.1 (2017): 50-72
  • 2016         “Max Harold Fisch, A Paradigm for Intellectual Historians,” European Journal of Pragmatism and Philosophy 8.2 (2016): 248-74
  • 2013         “The Intrication of Political and Rhetorical Inquiry in Walter Benjamin,” History of Political Thought 34.4 (2013): 702-37
  • 2013         “The Implications of Robert Brandom’s Inferentialism for Intellectual History,” History and Theory 52.1 (2013): 1-31
  • 2010         “The Origin and Character of Hannah Arendt’s Theory of Judgment,” Political Theory: An International Journal of Political Philosophy 38.3 (2010): 367-93
  • 2010         “The Polis and its Analogues in the Thought of Hannah Arendt,” Modern Intellectual History 7.1 (2010): 123-49
  • 2009         “The Transformation of Rhetoric in G. B. Vico’s De nostri temporis studiorum ratione,” Italian Quarterly 46 (2009): 123-37
  • 2006         “The Impersonal Character of Action in Vico’s De Coniuratione Principum Neapolitanorum,” New Vico Studies 24 (2006): 81-128
  • 2005         “Prophecy and Poetry in Vico’s Scienza Nuova: Towards the Manifold Quality of Time,” Bruniana & Campanelliana 11 (2005): 519-49
  • 2004         “La Congiura dei Principi Napoletani di Giambattista Vico,” Napoli Nobilissima: Rivista di Arti, Filologia e Storia, 5th ser., 5, nos. 3-4 (2004): 105-20
  • 2003         “Questions of Reception for Vico’s De Antiquissima Italorum Sapientia,” Bollettino del Centro di Studi Vichiani 33 (2003): 35-66

Review Essays

  • Marshall, D. L. (2011).  “The Current State of Vico Scholarship,” Journal of the History of Ideas 72(1): 141-60.
  • Marshall, D. L. (2010).  “Intellectual History of the Weimar Republic—Recent Research,” Intellectual History Review 20(4): 503-17.
  • Marshall, D. L. (2010).  “Recent Research on Roman Rhetoric,” The European Legacy 15(1): 75-8.
  • Marshall, D. L. (2009).  “The Problem of Language in Early Modern Thought,” Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric 27(2): 225-30.
  • Marshall, D. L. (2007).  “Early Modern Rhetoric: Recent Research in German, Italian, French, and English,” Intellectual History Review 17: 75-93.


  • February 11, 2016 - 12:30pm: Humanities Center Colloquium "Warburgian Maxims for Visual Rhetoric"
  •  September 8, 2017 - 3:00pm: Agora Speaker Series:“The Weimar Origins of Political Theory”

Courses Taught


  • Archiving, Mapping, Inventing (COMMRC 3306)
  • Cannibalizing Rhetoric (COMMRC 3317)
  • Rhetoric and the Modal (COMMRC 3317)


  • Rhetorical Process (COMMRC 0310)
  • Rhetoric and Culture (COMMRC 1103)
  • Where Do Good Ideas Come From? (COMMRC 1731)
  • Theories of Persuasion (COMMRC 1111)