The Making of the Humanities


First International Conference on the History of the Humanities


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23-25 October 2008, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands


Call for Abstracts

Goal of the Conference

We aim at bringing together scholars and historians of the various humanities disciplines to draw the outlines for a 
comparative history of the humanities. We are especially keen on understanding the mutual interplay between the 
humanities and how they developed from the artes liberales, via the studia humanitatis, to (early) modern disciplines. 
Although there exist separate histories of single humanities disciplines, a comparative history would satisfy a long-felt need, 
and fill a conspicuous gap in intellectual history. An edited book with a prominent publisher is planned, with the provisional 
title Another History of Science: The Making of the Humanities.


Topics for Abstracts


We invite submissions that explore the connections between different disciplines in the history of the humanities. While the focus is on the early modern period when the humanities started to emerge (roughly 1400-1800), we also welcome proposals for papers exploring interesting links with earlier or later periods. Topics include all aspects of the history of philology, linguistics, logic, rhetoric, music theory, ‘ars historica’ and ‘ars poetica’, with an emphasis on their interrelations as well as their impact on the natural sciences, philosophy and theology, and on the broader cultural and political context.


Sample questions of interest are the following:


What was the role of the humanities in the development of the natural sciences and the scientific revolution?

How were different humanities disciplines integrated in different periods, e.g. in Lorenzo Valla’s discovery that the Donatio Constantini was a forgery?

Did developments in historiography lead to a Copernican turn in the humanities?

Can the origins of empiricism be traced back to philology?

What were the major discoveries and inventions in the humanities that “changed the world”?

How did the combined presentation of naturalia and artificialia in cabinets of curiosities influence the development of the humanities?

Who are the key figures of the humanities in different periods -- e.g. Alberti, Valla, Ramus, Erasmus, Scaliger, Reuchlin, Kircher, Holder etc.


We strongly favor abstracts that are as comparative as possible, i.e. that explore the connections between different disciplines and/or persons in the history of the humanities.


Abstract Submission


Deadline for abstract submissions: 1 July 2008

Send abstract of maximally 400 words to:

Notification of acceptance: 20 July 2008

Date of the conference: 23-25 October 2008




We do not sollicit separate panel submissions, but welcome ideas for panels. Please contact the organizers.


Auspices: European Science Foundation (ESF), Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC)


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