PhiSci. Philology as science in 19th-century Europe

Start - End 
2022 - 2027 (ongoing)
Department(s) 
Department of History
Research Focus 

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Abstract

(For more information, visit the project website!)

PhiSci develops a novel framework to understand how philology – the historical study of text and language – once reigned as ‘queen of the sciences.’ This project pioneers a new account of how and why philology achieved such extraordinary success in nineteenth-century Europe, the time when the research university was founded and modern disciplines were formed.

By drawing on history of science, media theory, and informatics, PhiSci analyzes textual and linguistic study as a ‘science in the making.’ The team will thus uncover how local practices, forms of representation, adaptations of instruments, and strategic cooperation consolidated into robust programs that generated stable knowledge and knowledge communities. Specifically, their work will focus on infrastructure, media, collaboration, and scholarly protocols and trace their impact across Semitic, Indo-Iranian, Romance, Germanic, and Classical philologies. In doing so, PhiSci aims to explain how philology operated as a diverse system of relations that projected a unity which enabled it to wield a scientific authority greater than the sum of its parts.

Ultimately, this research on the history of knowledge opens up vistas onto such contemporary problems as the capture of data, production of information, and use of conceptual objects. These issues prove especially important as they underpin textual studies and digital humanities and drive new streams of global knowledge today.

This project is generously funded by a Starting Grant from the European Research Council.

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