Vossius Center for History of Humanities and Sciences

The Classics of the Humanities II

20Oct2017 09:30 - 17:00


There are a few places left for the second workshop on The Classics of the Humanities.

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 canons, 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.


The purpose of this series of workshops is to collect texts, which can be considered as classics of humanistic scholarship and, afterwards, to publish these together in an anthology (planned with Oxford University Press). 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 This could, for example, be texts from traditions of scholarship that are now considered as outdated, such as antiquarianism, traditions that have been discarded as political and scholarly mistakes, such as racist anthropology."


The workshop is intended as preparation for an edited volume. Thus, discussions at the workshop will be based upon the reading of introductory essays as well as primary sources, which will be circulated before the workshop. If you are interested in participating in the workshop, please send an email to rens.bod@uva.nl to receive these texts and further information about the location of the workshop.

The first workshop on The Classics of the Humanities was held at the University of Roskilde on 21 April  2017.


9.30: Introduction to the program, Rens Bod, University of Amsterdam, and Kasper Risbjerg Eskildsen, Roskilde University. 

9.45: Katherine Harloe, University of Reading – Johann Joachim Winckelmann, "Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums"(1764)

10.30: Ingrid Rowland, University of Notre Dame – Edward Gibbon, “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” (1776-1788)

11.15: Coffee

11.30: Kapil Raj, École des hautes études en sciences sociales – William Jones, "Speeches before the Asiatic Society of Bengal" (1784) and (1786) 

12.15: Lunch

13.15: Kasper Risbjerg Eskildsen, Roskilde University – Leopold Ranke, "Geschichten der romanischen und germanischen Völker" (1824)

14.00: Glenn Most, Scuola Normale Superiore/University of Chicago – Karl Lachmann, "T. Lucreti Cari de rerum natura libri VI" (1850)

14.45: Coffee/Tea

15.00: Bart Karstens, University of Amsterdam – Vladimir Propp, “Fairy Tale Transformations" (1928)

15.45: Rens Bod, University of Amsterdam – Roberto Busa, “Sancti Thomae Aquinatis hymnorum ritualium varia specimina concordantiarum: A first example of word index automatically compiled and printed by IBM punched card machines” (1951), TBC 

16.30-17.00: Concluding remarks

Published by  Vossius Center