Thesis ID: CBB512740154

Philology as a Way of Knowing: Classical Philology in the Reformed German Universities, 1730–1830 (2022)


This is the first comprehensive history of the philology seminar as an institutional, intellectual, pedagogical, and scientific space. It also breaks new ground by studying the history of philology from a history of science perspective. “Philology as a Way of Knowing” demonstrates how and why classical philology became the preeminent science at German universities in the period 1730–1830 by telling two interrelated stories. On one hand, it reveals how the transformation of philological methods and pedagogical practices within philology seminars led to the emergence of a distinctive philological ethos and way of knowing, which spread through German academia like wildfire. On the other hand, it traces the braided institutional, cultural, and political factors that facilitated classical philology’s increasing institutional authority, educational importance, and scientific legitimacy. By juxtaposing these two analyses, this dissertation explains how the rise of classical philology as a discipline was fundamentally linked to the development and dissemination of certain scholarly ideals, epistemic virtues, and habits of mind, which comprised the philological ethos. It also provides a new explanation for classical philology’s institutional and cultural significance in the nineteenth century that links it directly to the field’s growing epistemic authority and scientific legitimacy after 1750. The analysis ends in 1830 because I contend that this was the point at which classical philology’s position at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of disciplines, as the dominant subject in German secondary schools, and as a powerful cultural touchstone for generations of Gymnasium students, was secured. Finally, by arguing that the philological ethos of the seminars constituted a new way of knowing and positing that this ethos contributed to the formation of a distinctive mode of German science, this dissertation offer an opening provocation that I hope will stimulate bold new research, which transcends the boundaries between the history of science and the history of the humanities globally.

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Authors & Contributors
Blair, Ann
Blasi, Anthony J.
Boeck, Gisela
Engwall, Lars
Franzel, Sean
Frietsch, Ute
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
Bochumer Philosophisches Jahrbuch fur Antike und Mittelalter
Bulletin of the History of Archaeology
Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin Canadienne d'Histoire de la Medecine
Chinese Journal for the History of Science and Technology
McGill-Queen's University Press
Univ. Rostock, Fachbereich Geschichtswissenschaften, Institut für Wissenschafts- und Universitätsgeschichte
Western Michigan University
Academic disciplines
Discipline formation
Universities and colleges
Science education and teaching
Descartes, René
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von
Kant, Immanuel
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
20th century
17th century
20th century, early
20th century, late
United States
Great Britain
Universität Leipzig
Yale University
Göttingen. Universität
Herzog August Bibliothek
Univ. Rostock, Fachbereich Geschichtswissenschaften, Institut für Wissenschafts- und Universitätsgeschichte
Academy Sinica

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