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James McElvenny joins the Vossius Center in September for one month as a Research Fellow with his project about the German sinologist and linguist Georg von der Gabelentz (1840–1893).

About the project

His research project focus is on the German sinologist and linguist Georg von der Gabelentz (1840–1893). Its aim is not to construct a hagiography: it does not seek to elevate Gabelentz to a ‘Great Man’ in the history of linguistics. Rather, it will offer the first comprehensive treatment of Gabelentz’ work, its place in contemporary linguistic theory, its sources and its impact, all with the goal of enriching our picture of the period.

As Professor for East Asian Languages first at the neogrammarian stronghold of the University of Leipzig from 1878 to 1889 and then Professor for Sinology and General Linguistics in Berlin from 1889 until his death in 1893, Gabelentz was present at the chief centres of contemporary linguistic scholarship. He pursued, however, an individual interpretation of the seemingly antiquated doctrines of Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767–1835).  Through his efforts to demonstrate the legitimacy of his Humboldtianism and to accommodate it to the interests and methods of his colleagues, we gain insight into the theoretical landscape of the time.

About the researcher

James McElvenny is Postdoctoral Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at the Institut für Romanistik, Universität Potsdam. Project: ‘Das Leben und Werk des deutschen Sinologen und Sprachwissenschaftlers Georg von der Gabelentz (1840–1893)’. He obtained his PhD in 2016 at the University of Sydney with his dissertation Meaning in the Age of Modernism: C.K. Ogden and his contemporaries.