Vossius Center for the History of Humanities and Sciences

The Classics of the Humanities I

21Apr2017 10:00 - 17:00


The Vossius Center organises a workshop with Roskilde University to create a canon for the history of the humanities. The event will take place in Roskilde, Denmark.

What are the classics of humanistic scholarship? Most historians of science or historians of philosophy would be able to produce a list of classical texts within their field in a short time. Such texts are well known, often reproduced, and recommended in syllabi and readers around the world. Nothing similar exists for the history of the humanities. Even if much debate in recent decades has criticized the idea of cannons, there may be good reasons why we need one. An established list of classics would not only make the history of humanities a more teachable topic, but also to promote new research in the field. On the one hand, such a list could inspire scholars to reinvestigate the classics. On the other hand, it could provoke others to question what should and should not be considered classics, as it has happened in recent decades in other historical fields.

We focus upon the formative period of the modern humanistic disciplines from the middle of the eighteenth to the middle of twentieth century. We are especially interested in texts that exemplify the methods and research practices of the modern humanistic scholarship. These texts can be foundational texts in specific disciplines and/or text that have had long lasting influence beyond disciplinary and national boundaries. However, we are also interested in texts from “lost” scholarly traditions, which were once considered as foundational, but no longer are read. This could, for example, be texts from traditions of scholarship that are now considered as outdated, such as antiquarianism, traditions that have been discarded as political and scholarly mistakes, such as racist anthropology, or non-western scholarly traditions.

Confirmed speakers:

Stefani Engelstein, Duke University - Friedrich Schlegel, “Gespräch über die Poesie" (1800)

Jakob Egholm Feld, Roskilde University - Immanuel Wolf, ”Über den Begriff einer Wissenschaft des Judenthums” (1822).

Kasper Risbjerg Eskildsen, Roskilde University – Christian Jürgensen Thomsen, “Ledetraad til Nordisk Oldkyndighed” (1836).

Harun Küçük, University of Pennsylvania - Ahmet Cevdet Pasa “Tarih-i Cevdet” (1854)

Rens Bod, University of Amsterdam - Ricciotto Canudo, “La Naissance d'un sixième art” (1911).

Mario Wimmer, University of Bern/University of California at Berkeley – Aby Warburg’s "Heidnisch-antike Weissagung in Wort und Bild zu Luthers Zeiten” (1920)



Everyone is welcome. However, texts will be circulated (in English translation) before the worshop. You are therefore asked to sign up at eskild@ruc.dk


Rens Bod, University of Amsterdam, and Kasper Risbjerg Eskildsen, Roskilde University


The venue of this workshop is 42.1-39. Roskilde University, Denmark

Published by  Vossius Center