Universiteit Leiden

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History of the Humanities: Stories, Sources, and Challenges

What is the history of the humanities? What does this new field look like? How does it relate to the history of science or to the history of individual disciplines (linguistics, history, media studies)? And how can you participate?

Recent years have seen a surge of interest in historical approaches to the humanities (Geisteswissenschaften), with a Society for the History of the Humanities, the journal History of Humanities, annual conferences, and new book publications on an almost yearly basis. 

This summer school seeks to familiarize PhD candidates and research master students with key questions, methodological issues, and current developments in the history of humanities. Leading scholars in the field will come to Leiden for a three-day workshop clustered around three themes: stories, sources, and challenges.

The first theme draws attention to narratives of crisis, narratives of decline, and stories of origins that circulate in the media and are told by historians of the humanities themselves. If this first theme is rather analytical – how to recognize and analyze such stories, what to think of them? – the second theme is more practical. It aims to give participants an idea of the sort of sources on which historians of the humanities draw (textual or visual sources, but also oral history). The third theme, finally, encourages participants to think about the field as a whole and to identify some current challenges or priorities.

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