Shimer College

Harold S. Stone

Stone joined the Shimer faculty in 1983 and, after teaching at Colgate University and the American University in Cairo, returned to Shimer in 2000. 


Professor of European History and Dean of the College

In Brief

I delight in those curious juxtapositions and remarkable coincidences that stop you in your tracks, give you pause, some scarcely a clue of what to make of it. Consider that Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were both born on February 12, 1812. This fact doesn’t explain much but it may get one to think.

Why Shimer?

In a Natural Sciences 3 class, we had been grappling with Newton’s revolutionary arguments about the primacy of color in his Optics.  He begins the book describing his experiments that questioned the idea that color was a secondary or relative quality.  We did his experiments.

But in another class, Humanities 1, these same students had done another set of color experiments based on the work of the artist Joseph Alpers that showed our perception of color changed when certain colors were placed in a particular color environment. 

Could we reconcile these contrary experiences? To my mind the aim of a liberal arts education is to empower the learner to answer questions of this sort and certainly to explore them. Could both experiences be true? Or do we have to reject one of them?  Are there things by one point of view not understood by the other? 


Ph.D., Committee on Social Thought
University of Chicago, 1981

M.A. History
University of Chicago, 1972

St. John’s College, Annapolis, Maryland 1971


I have taught all the classes in the Shimer Core; I also regularly teach introductory and advanced classes in Latin and ancient Greek.

Research Interests

My academic research focuses on the history of reading in seventeenth and eighteenth century Europe.  Currently I am studying the early history of book review journals to see what role they played in the transmission of thought, and how they affected scholarly research and the conception of the role of the intellectual life.


Research Activity

Recent Articles

“Book 18 of  The City of God, Bianchini’s Universal History and the New Science of Vico” to appear in Augustine and History, Lexington Books,  2006.

“A description of the critical apparatus of Montesquieu’s De l’esprit des lois”, Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, accepted pending revisions.

“Why Europeans Stopped Reading Averroes: The Case of Pierre Bayle,”  Alif, 1996, 16, 77-91.

“The Achievement of Franco Venturi”, The American Scholar, Summer, 1995, v.64, 408-414.

Harold Stone and Margaret Maurer, “An Elizabethan Euclid”, Philobiblon or the love of books, Spring, 1991, 9-27.



St. Augustine’s Bones: A Microhistory. University of Massachusetts Press, 2003

Vico’s Cultural History, The Production and Transmission of Ideas in Naples, 1685-1750.  Leiden, Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1997. E.J. Brill Studies in Intellectual History series, 73.

Cohler, A., Miller, B. and Stone, H., Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws, Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought series, Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Stone, H., Rampolla M., Miracles of the Virgin Accomplished at Chartres, Colgate University, 1989.