maandag 14 mei 2018

Spring issue of "History of Humanities" has been published

Publication Cover

The spring issue of History of Humanities has just been published. It contains a Forum section on The Two Cultures Revisited, five regular articles and over a dozen book reviews.

Click here to go to issue 3(1) of History of Humanities

donderdag 8 maart 2018

Call for Papers ‘The Making of the Humanities VII’ Conference


‘The Making of the Humanities’ conference returns to Amsterdam! This is the place where the conference series started in 2008, 10 years ago.

The University of Amsterdam will host the 7th Making of the Humanities conference at its CREA facilities, from 15 till 17 November 2018.

Click here for the full Call for Papers.

donderdag 11 januari 2018

A Review of the Polish translation of "A New History of the Humanities"

For those who read Polish -- or who want to copy and paste the text in Google Translate -- here's a review of the Polish translation of my book.

Click here to go to the review.

maandag 8 januari 2018

Fellowships in the History of the Humanities

The Vossius Center for the History of Humanities and Sciences offers funding for Research Fellowships for 1-3 months.

The deadline for applications is 1 March 2018. Applicants are invited to submit a proposal for obtaining a subsidy. The proposal should make clear why it fits in the research theme of the Center.

Click here for more information on the Vossius Fellowships and specific details about the application procedure.

vrijdag 1 december 2017

The Chinese translation of "A New History of the Humanities" has been published!

Peking University Press has just  published the Chinese translation of "A New History of the Humanities" ("De Vergeten Wetenschappen").

The book was presented last week at Tsinghua University and at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. It was covered by several media.

Click here for a news item by Tsinghua University.

zaterdag 28 oktober 2017

6th History of Humanities Conference in Oxford covered humanities' history from all continents

We can look back on what proved to be a very stimulating conference in Oxford. Next to three keynote lectures, there were over 125 papers presented during the conference spread over 32 sessions, covering the history of the humanities from all continents.

For the second time a prize of 500 Euro was awarded for the best Graduate Student paper. Out of 37 graduate papers Christopher Bahl (University of London) was selected as the winner for his paper “The Shaping of a Transoceanic Reading Community of Arabic Philological Texts.”

We encourage all participants to submit their papers, presented at the conference, to our journal History of Humanities. Looking forward to 2018 we are happy to announce the venue and date for The Making of Humanities VII conference: it will be held in Beijing (China), Tsinghua University, from 29-31 August, 2018. The Call for Papers will be posted soon.

Click here for a conference report with some photos.

zondag 10 september 2017

Autumn 2017 issue of History of Humanities now online

Publication Cover

Issue 2.2 of our journal “History of Humanities” is now online. 

It contains a Forum section on the “Origins of Musical Disciplines”. As well as five research articles on the “History of Knowledge in the Age of Transition”, on “Otto Jespersen’s “Progress in Language””, on “The Dante of Alessandro Torri”, on “Gendered Philology”, and on “The Comparative Method in the Modern Humanities”. And not to forget: 13 book reviews.

zondag 30 juli 2017

Vossius Fund for Research Fellows in History of the Humanities

The Vossius Center for the History of Humanities and Sciences (Amsterdam) offers funding for Research Fellows.

The next deadline is 1 October 2017. Applicants are invited to submit a proposal for obtaining a subsidy for research fellows.

For more info, click here.

zaterdag 3 juni 2017

The Making of the Humanities VI (Oxford): Program Available

The Making of the Humanities VI (MOH-VI) is the sixth international conference on the history of the humanities, and the largest since its inception: 123 papers from 25 countries and 5 continents will be presented.

The MOH-VI conference will be held at the University of Oxford, Somerville College, 28-30 September 2017.

For more information (program and registration), click here.

vrijdag 31 maart 2017

Latest issue of History of Humanities has been published!

The latest issue of History of Humanities 2(1) deals with Practical and Material Histories of the Humanities.

The so-called practical and material turns that have occurred in recent historiography of science also apply to the history of the humanities. The present issue therefore begins with a “Theme” section on the practices of historical research in archives and libraries. The six articles in this section deal with seemingly mundane aspects such as editing, copying, inventorying, and the handling of archival objects (including boxes and paper clips), as well as with the limitations of archival access, their ergonomics, and even their lighting and temperature. The authors contend that such practical aspects are relevant for understanding continuities in the humanities to a much larger extent than has previously been thought.

The “Forum” section explores the history of the analysis of materials and techniques in art. The “material turn” is clearly one of the characteristic features of the humanities in the early twenty-first century. It has dislodged the centrality of the human element and foregrounded the social life of things, the agency of objects, and actor-artifact assemblages. Textual and language-oriented models of knowledge are complemented by studies of “tacit” and “embodied” knowledge.

For more info and the Table of Contents of issue 2(1) click here.

woensdag 22 februari 2017

How a New Field Could Help Save the Humanities

Here's my essay in the Chronicle Review that has just been published. I make a case for studying the general history of the humanities on par with (and in close alliance with) the history of the sciences.

"Unlike the history of science, the history of the humanities is not an academic discipline. This is surprising — humanists are among the most historically minded scholars. How can it be that humanists care about the history of everything except about their own? The situation is of course more subtle: There is historiography of philology, of history writing, of religious studies, of art history, of musicology, of literary studies, and more, but what is missing is an academic discipline that explores the history of the humanities together. For the "humanities" to be more than just an umbrella term, this bewildering gap in intellectual history must be remedied. [...]"

Click here for the complete essay.

maandag 6 februari 2017

Workshop on "The Classics of the Humanities"

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor woman scholar painting

What are the classics of humanistic scholarship? Most historians of science or historians of philosophy would be able to produce a list of classical texts within their field in a short time. Such texts are well known, often reproduced, and recommended in syllabi and readers around the world. Nothing similar exists for the history of the humanities. Even if much debate in recent decades has criticized the idea of cannons, there may be good reasons why we need one. An established list of classics would not only make the history of humanities a more teachable topic, but also to promote new research in the field. On the one hand, such a list could inspire scholars to reinvestigate the classics. On the other hand, it could provoke others to question what should and should not be considered classics, as it has happened in recent decades in other historical fields.

We focus upon the formative period of the modern humanistic disciplines from the middle of the eighteenth to the middle of twentieth century. We are especially interested in texts that exemplify the methods and research practices of the modern humanistic scholarship. These texts can be foundational texts in specific disciplines and/or text that have had long lasting influence beyond disciplinary and national boundaries. However, we are also interested in texts from “lost” scholarly traditions, which were once considered as foundational, but no longer are read. This could, for example, be texts from traditions of scholarship that are now considered as outdated, such as antiquarianism, traditions that have been discarded as political and scholarly mistakes, such as racist anthropology, or non-western scholarly traditions.

Organizers:  Rens Bod, University of Amsterdam, and Kasper Risbjerg Eskildsen, Roskilde University

For more information and registration, click here.

[IMAGE: Juana Inés de la Cruz (1666). Signed J. Sánchez. Juana Inés de la Cruz (1651–1695) was a self-taught scholar, poet and dramatist.]

Call for Abstracts: The Making of the Humanities VI, Oxford, 28-30 September 2017

The sixth conference on the history of the humanities, ‘The Making of the Humanities VI’, will take place at the University of Oxford, Humanities Division and Somerville College, UK, from 28 till 30 September 2017.

Goal of the Making of the Humanities (MoH) Conferences

The MoH conferences are organized by the Society for the History of the Humanities and bring together scholars and historians interested in the history of a wide variety of disciplines, including archaeology, art history, historiography, linguistics, literary studies, media studies, musicology, and philology, tracing these fields from their earliest developments to the modern day.
    We welcome panels and papers on any period or region. We are especially interested in work that compares scholarly practices across humanities disciplines and civilizations.
    Please note that the Making of the Humanities conferences are not concerned with the history of art, the history of music or the history of literature, and so on, but instead with the history of art history, the history of musicology, the history of literary studies, etc.

Keynote Speakers

Elisabeth Décultot, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg: From an Antiquarian to an Historical Approach? The Birth of Art History in the 18th Century
Shamil Jeppie, University of Cape Town: Styles of Writing History in Timbuktu and the Sahara/Sahel
Peter Mandler, University of Cambridge: The Rise (and Fall?) of the Humanities

Paper Submissions

Abstracts of single papers (30 minutes including discussion) should contain the name of the speaker, full contact address (including email address), the title and a summary of the paper of maximally 250 words. For more information about submitting abstracts, see
Deadline for abstracts: 15 April 2017
Notification of acceptance: June 2017

Panel Submissions

Panels last 1.5 to 2 hours and can consist of 3-4 papers and possibly a commentary on a coherent theme including discussion. Panel proposals should contain respectively the name of the chair, the names of the speakers and commentator, full contact addresses (including email addresses), the title of the panel, a short (150 words) description of the panel’s content and for each paper an abstract of maximally 250 words. For more information about submitting panels, see
Deadline for panel proposals: 15 April 2017
Notification of acceptance: June 2017

vrijdag 23 december 2016

A New History of the Humanities among “Books of the Year”

The Higher Education Strategy Associates (HESA) has selected "A New History of the Humanities" as one of the "Books of the Year".  They seem to refer to the new paperback edition of my book which came out in North America in January 2016, so yes, it's really this year.

donderdag 8 december 2016

Fellowships in History of Humanities


At the Vossius Center for the History of Humanities and Sciences, several research fellowships in History of Humanities are available. These fellowships are meant to stay up to three months at the University of Amsterdam.

Click here for applying for the Vossius Fund for Research Fellows.

donderdag 3 november 2016

Ukrainian Translation of "De Vergeten Wetenschappen" Selected among Best Books of 2016

The Ukrainian translation of my book "De Vergeten Wetenschappen"  was selected among the best books of 2016 (from more than 500 books) at the Lviv Forum of Publishers. Click here for the broadcasting

dinsdag 25 oktober 2016

Fall issue of "History of Humanities" has been published!

The 2016 Fall Issue of "History of Humanities" has just been published:

Click here for the Table of Contents.

The theme is "Going Global":

While the academic conception of the humanities, or Geisteswissenschaften, may be a Western invention, attempts to analyze literature, art, music, language, theater, and history are not exclusively European phenomena but have originated in different parts of the world. For this reason, one of the stated goals of this journal is to advocate the study of the history of the humanities from a global perspective.1 In the first issue we included one aspect of the humanities in China. The current issue includes essays on the humanities in precolonial Mali, pre-Hispanic America, the Ottoman Empire, and the Soviet Union. What do we gain from a global perspective? A transgeographical history of the humanities not only helps avoid a parochial view but also shows to what extent practices and ideals in the humanities in different parts of the world are connected and comparable. In the current issue, Shamil Jeppie argues that the humanities in precolonial Timbuktu can be properly understood only if they are viewed as part of a larger network of learning that included North Africa and the Middle East. Sara Gonzalez asserts that Peruvian history writing focused on images as the basis for historical narratives in which the pre-Columbian rulers were connected to the Habsburg dynasty. Michiel Leezenberg draws attention to the fact that processes of vernacularization took place simultaneously in the Ottoman Empire and elsewhere in the world. Floris Solleveld focuses on Europe but discusses the notion of “revolution” in the humanities across different countries. Boris Gasparov makes us aware that, even in relation to the secluded situation of the Soviet Union, a comparative perspective is rewarding. We wish to further encourage the study of the history of humanities from a pluralistic, comparative point of view. Our argument in favor of a global perspective does not, however, exclude the journal’s other goals. In fact, this issue’s Forum contributions by Herman Paul and colleagues deal with the question of how to write a history of the humanities that transcends disciplines. They hypothesize that scholarly personae offer a promising focus for such a project. By contrasting different disciplines and scholars, they show that a comparative perspective is fruitful not only for a global but also for a primarily local history of the humanities.

maandag 3 oktober 2016

Book of Abstracts of "The Making of the Humanities V" is online!

"The Making of the Humanities V" will take place at Johns Hopkins University from 5-7 October 2016. The full book of abstracts in now available.

Click here for the book of abstracts.

woensdag 31 augustus 2016

Our recent volume "The Making of the Modern Humanities" reviewed in premier History of Science journal (Isis)

"A must-read for anyone interested in the history of a broad range of the humanities. It combines case studies of great historical precision with methodological considerations of historical epistemologies, with the explicit aim of matching the work done in the history of science with equivalent historical epistemologies of the various humanistic disciplines—including philology, musicology, art history, linguistics, archaeology, theater studies, history of philosophy, media studies, Oriental studies, and literary studies—often in light of their intersections with science or the social sciences (the particular innovation of this volume)."

For more information on: Rens Bod, Jaap Maat, and Thijs Weststeijn (Editors): The Making of the Humanities, Vol. 3: The Modern Humanities, see the review by Katherine Arens.

zaterdag 2 juli 2016

List of Papers and Panels of "The Making of the Humanities V" Online

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor johns hopkins university

The next Making of the Humanities conference will take place at Johns Hopkins University, 5-7 October 2016. Invited speakers are Karine Chemla, Anthony Grafton and Sarah Kay.  More than 100 papers on the history of the humanities and related disciplines will be presented.

Click here for the list of papers and panels.

maandag 20 juni 2016

How to Write a History of the Humanities

Some time ago, I had a two-hour debate with James Turner (author of "Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities") on how to write the history of the humanities. Not long after this debate, Anne van Dam (PhD student at Leiden University) wrote this interesting paper on our debate.

"On the first of February the early modern historical colloquium on the history of the humanities took place in the fully packed Sweelinck room of Utrecht University. For this extended colloquium the university invited Prof. dr. Rens Bod and Prof. dr. James Turner, two authors of seminal publications on the history of the humanities. Rens Bod is a professor of Digital Humanities and co-director of the Center for the History of Humanities and Sciences at the University of Amsterdam and author of A New History of the Humanities, published in Dutch in 2010. James Turner is the Cavanaugh Professor of Humanities at the University of Notre Dame and author of Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities, which appeared in 2014. The afternoon at Utrecht University was the first time the two scholars met for a lively debate on the subject of the history of the humanities."

Click here to read the full paper.

dinsdag 31 mei 2016

Join the Election for the Best History Book Ever!

Historisch Nieuwsblad op zoek naar ‘Beste Geschiedenisboek aller tijden’

The Dutch 'Historisch Nieuwsblad' has organized an election for the best history book ever. You could for example vote for De Vergeten Wetenschappen which is the original Dutch version of A New History of the Humanities. Enjoy!

Click here for the election.

woensdag 27 april 2016

Opening Vossius Center for the History of Humanities and Sciences


The History of Humanities in Amsterdam will be institutionalized by the new Vossius Center for the History of Humanities and Sciences.

The Vossius Center will be officially opened on Monday 27 June, 15.00h-18.00h, at the place where Gerardus Vossius held his inaugural lecture in 1632. Speakers include Dymph van den Boom, Frank van Vree, Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, Haun Saussy, Joep Leerssen, Julia Kursell, Jeroen van Dongen and Rens Bod. The afternoon will be concluded with the presentation of the new journal "History of Humanities".

All those interested in attending the opening of the Vossius Center are welcome. The full program will follow soon. Since places are allotted on a first-come, first-serve basis, please register as early as possible (no later than 15 May) at

On Vossius: In 1632, the polymath Gerardus Vossius became the first professor at the newly founded Athenaeum Illustre, the precursor of the current University of Amsterdam. Besides being a historian, he was a literary scholar, grammarian, rhetorician and theologian. In his work on chronology he combined astronomical with historical evidence. He also wrote the first overview of the history and theory of classical literature. Four of his children became established scholars as well, but only Isaac survived his father to become one of the most famous intellectuals of Europe. A Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Vossius was prolific as a philologist, geographer but also published on tidal motions, on optics, on painting, on China and on the age of the world. He argued that the earth had to be much older than could be derived from the Bible. The internationally well connected father and son Vossius crossed disciplines, mixed methods and engaged with the past to make sense of the present. Their multi-talented Amsterdam-based family reflects the Center’s central theme to arrive at a global, post-disciplinary history of knowledge.

vrijdag 25 maart 2016

Inaugural Issue of the new journal "History of Humanities" has been published!

"These are exciting times for the humanities. The impressive corpus of knowledge that the humanities have discovered, created, and cultivated over many centuries is available for the benefit of more people than ever and evolving rapidly. Fresh perspectives open up as digital tools enable researchers to explore questions that not long ago were beyond their reach and even their imagination. Novel fields of research deal with phenomena emerging in a globalizing culture, enabling us to make sense of the way in which new media affect our lives. Cross-fertilization between disciplines leads to newly developed methods and results, such as the complex chemical analysis of the materials of ancient artworks, yielding data that were unavailable to both artists and their publics at the time of production, or neuroscientific experiments shedding new light on our capacity for producing and appreciating music."

Click here for the full issue.

donderdag 17 maart 2016

"A New History of the Humanities" will be translated into Italian and Korean

I am very happy to announce that A New History of the Humanities will also be translated into Italian and Korean. The contracts with the publishers have been signed and the translations are expected to appear in 2017. So far, the originally Dutch book "De Vergeten Wetenschappen" has been or is being translated into English, Chinese, Polish, Armenian, Ukrainian, Korean and Italian.

woensdag 2 maart 2016

Positions in the History of Humanities

Our project "The Flow of Cognitive Goods: Towards a Post-Disciplinary History of Knowledge" has two fully funded PhD positions on the following topic:

"Historiography of both the humanities and the sciences is almost invariably carried out within the confines of modern disciplinary categories. This produces a serious problem: crucial processes of knowledge transfer receive insufficient attention or are not studied at all, even though great innovations are often produced when disciplinary boundaries are crossed. Disciplinary historiography tends to obscure that academic disciplines are not static but dynamic and implicitly keeps the idea intact that the sciences and the humanities are distinct endeavours. To solve these problems we propose to move beyond the disciplinary approach and to write a, what we will call, ‘post-disciplinary’ history of knowledge. Our project will focus on the period from 1800 to 2000, because in this period the process of formation and institutionalization of modern disciplinary categories has taken place. We intend to leave disciplinary biases behind yet at the same time wish to provide the means to come to a better understanding of the construction of disciplinary categories. To this end, we will focus on what we call ‘cognitive goods’: the epistemic notions and objects (i.e. ‘goods’) that are transferred when knowledge is increased by crossing or transcending disciplinary boundaries. Examples of ‘cognitive goods’ are research methods, formalisms, virtues, theoretical concepts, metaphors, and argumentative and demonstrative techniques."

Click here for more information.

Criticism as Science?

Here is a column by Alessandro Pagnini on Criticism as Science which discusses my book. It's in Italian, published in Il Sole 24 Ore:

"Recentemente un linguista olandese, Rens Bod (A New History of the Humanities, Oxford) ha insinuato che è proprio da quella differenza, poi istituzionalizzata, che nasce un chiaro complesso di inferiorità delle humanities: siccome è la scienza che, dopo Galileo e Cartesio e a dispetto di Vico, è progredita e si è dimostrata “vera” conoscenza a servizio dell’uomo, della società, dell’economia, il resto della cultura, confinato alla contingenza e, per il suo valore di verità, tutt’al più al consenso delle genti, ha voluto dimostrare almeno una sua importanza indiretta, o per l’educazione, o per la coscienza e la responsabilità civile di una cittadinanza democratica (come intende, per esempio, Martha Nussbaum)."

Click here for the full article.

woensdag 24 februari 2016

A New History of the Humanities reviewed in Isis

My book A New History of the Humanities was reviewed in Isis, the premier journal devoted to the history of science. The review turns out to be a typical history-of-science-review: it is very positive about the content of my book but the reviewer doesn't see why we need a history of the humanities after all. Clearly there is still some mission work to do. The history of the humanities is the missing link in the history of knowledge!

"In many respects this book is a remarkable achievement, and it is hard to imagine a reader who will not learn from it—such is the book’s coverage that very few will know as much as the unimaginably erudite author. Via four long chapters covering antiquity, the Middle Ages, the early modern era, and the modern period, Rens Bod provides a history of the respective developments in linguistics, historiography, philology, musicology, art theory, logic, rhetoric, and poetics. For good measure, the final chapter also includes sections on archaeology, literary and theater studies, and “All Media and Culture: From Film Studies to New Media” (p. 339). In case anyone reading this review is not yet impressed, the author takes care, under each heading, to discuss developments not just in Europe but also (when appropriate) in India, China, and the civilization of Islam. The result is undeniably impressive—and hugely informative."

Click here for the full review.

dinsdag 2 februari 2016

A New Translation of A New History of the Humanities

I am very pleased and impressed by this Ukrainian translation (it's the fifth one, after the English, Polish, Armenian and Chinese translations of my book):

For more info, click here.

zaterdag 30 januari 2016

Project on the Integrated History of Humanities and Science

While the history of the humanities can be studied as a field on its own, it is not isolated from the history of science. There have been interactions between the humanities and the sciences at any time and place, even after the infamous divide between the two areas in the early 20th century. We have just received a generous NWO grant to investigate the long-term history of the humanities and sciences, which will contain several research positions. You will hear more about it soon.

Here is a short abstract of the project:

"Academic disciplines are often seen in isolation from each other, a perception that is historically unjust: cross-pollination of ideas takes place constantly. In fact, more often than not, this is what leads to breakthroughs. In order to break down stereotypical distinctions between disciplines, historians should formulate an all-encompassing, post-disciplinary history of knowledge."

For more info, click here.  (Note that the Dutch often mistranslate 'wetenschap' into 'science', which has also happened in the linked article. 'Wetenschap' should actually be translated into the compound 'humanities and science')

vrijdag 4 december 2015

First Issue of "History of Humanities" is in Production

This is an exciting moment: the inaugural issue of History of Humanities is now in production. It will appear in March 2016, but below is already a Table of Contents. Can't wait to see this coming out!

Table of Contents History of Humanities Vol.1 Nr.1

            A New Field -- Introduction to the Inaugural Issue of History of Humanities
                Rens Bod, Julia Kursell, Jaap Maat and Thijs Weststeijn

Monuments and Documents -- Panofsky on the Object of Study in the Humanities
John Guillory

Calling Time -- A Reply to John Guillory
John E. Joseph

Response to John Guillory
Geoffrey Galt Harpham

 “On the Narration of the Past in China” -- Headnote
Haun Saussy

On the Narration of the Past in China (An Outline)
Liu Dong

Gods, Heroes and Mythologists -- Romantic Scholars and the Pagan Roots of Europe’s
Joep Leerssen

Ferdinand Gregorovius versus Theodor Mommsen on the City of Rome and its Legends
Maya Maskarinec

Two Million Filing Cards -- The Empirical-Biographical Method of Semen Vengerov
Mark Gamsa

Culture and Nature in the Prism of Knowledge
Hans-Jörg Rheinberger

News of the Profession
                Call for Papers: “The Making of the Humanities V”

Book Reviews
Alain Schnapp, with Lothar von Falkenhausen, Peter N. Miller, and Tim Murray (eds.), World Antiquarianism: Comparative Perspectives. Los Angeles: The Getty Research Institute, 2013.
Review by: Thijs Weststeijn

James Turner, Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014.
Review by: Floris Solleveld

Khaled El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century: Scholarly Currents in the Ottoman Empire and the Maghreb. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Review by: Michiel Leezenberg

Thijs Weststeijn, Art and Antiquity in the Netherlands and Britain: The Vernacular Arcadia of Franciscus Junius (1591–1677). (Studies in Netherlandish Art and Cultural History, 12.) Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2015.
Review by: Sophie van Romburgh

Michael Gavin, The Invention of English Criticism: 1650-1760, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Review by: Neus Rotger

Wenchao Li (Hg.), Einheit der Vernunft und Vielfalt der Sprachen. Beiträge zu Leibniz’ Sprachforschung und Zeichentheorie. (Studia Leibnitiana, Supplementa 38). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2014.
Review by: Donald Rutherford

Diana Reynolds Cordileone, Alois Riegl in Vienna 1875-1905. An Institutional Biography. (Studies in Art Historiography.) Burlington VT: Ashgate, 2014.
Review by: Arnold Witte

Thomas Schneider & Peter Raulwing (eds.). Egyptology from the First World War to the Third Reich. Ideology, Scholarship, and Individual Biographies. Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2013.
Review by: Miguel John Versluys

Paul Taylor (ed.), Meditations on a Heritage. Papers on the Work and Legacy of Sir Ernst Gombrich. London: Paul Holberton publishing in association with the Warburg Institute, 2014.
Review by: Marieke van den Doel

Notes on Contributors

zondag 1 november 2015

Call for Papers "The Making of the Humanities" conference 2016


The next Making of the Humanities conference will take place at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, US), from 5-7 October 2016.

The Call for Papers and Panels is open and can be found at the new Society webpage.

Looking forward to seeing you in Baltimore!

dinsdag 6 oktober 2015

Armenian Association of World History translates “A New History of the Humanities"


The Armenian Association of World History is initiating the translation of A New History of the Humanities. This will the fifth translation of my originally Dutch book, after its Polish, English, Russian and Chinese translations.

I am really looking forward to this translation in a for me unexpected part of the world!

Click here for more information.

maandag 5 oktober 2015

Yet another review in Modern Intellectual History

Modern Intellectual History

My book has just been reviewed in Modern Intellectual History. This time the reviewer doesn't like my search for patterns and principles in the history of the humanities. But he does say:

"And yet this is probably a book worth reading, for there is much interesting material made available by it, often material of which most readers will be ignorant. Bod is doggedly thorough in documenting branches of the humanities less often in intellectual repertoires."

Click here for the full review.

donderdag 1 oktober 2015

Renaissance Quarterly reviews "A New History of the Humanities"

The Renaissance Quarterly has just reviewed my book:

"The current handwringing and doomsaying in academia concerning the study of humanities and its support, especially in the United States, makes Rens Bod’s book not only an interesting read, but also timely and ambitious."

"While Bod’s work shows that the humanities can be viewed scientifically, this comes at the cost of omitting valuable cultural differences and changes. The great silver lining here is that Bod’s work helps to emphasize this very aspect of the humanities by its absence. As a result he leaves the opportunity for other scholars to take up where he leaves off, bridging these gaps to create fuller historical narratives while maintaining an emphasis on the importance of patterns, principles, and comparative humanistic achievement. To this end, Bod’s work is timely, useful, and ambitious, and a new history worth reading."

Click here for the full review.

Humanities is not only interpretation

Here's an article about my talk "Patterns versus Interpretations" which I gave in Copenhagen on 23 September 2015. While the article is in Danish, Google Translate does a reasonable job translating it into English:

"Clearly Bod is a researcher with ambitions. When he discovered in 2008 that no one had yet written a comprehensive book on the humanities history, he decided that he was the man for the job. And although several colleagues and peers advised him not to take on the huge project, he continued undaunted. [...]"

zondag 20 september 2015

The Refugee Crisis: Perspectives from the Humanities (14 September)

Our last week's symposium on what the (history of the) humanities could contribute to the refugee crisis was fully booked less than 2 hours after the announcement went online. Perspectives from arabists, historians, philosophers were mixed with those from media-studies scholars, ethicists and east-european studies scholars. There is clearly a need for scholarly information about the refugee crisis. We will repeat this approach soon with a second symposium.

See here for a description of the symposium.

donderdag 20 augustus 2015

Hot off the Press: New Editions of "A New History of the Humanities" with New Prefaces!

Five years after the publication of the original Dutch book (De Vergeten Wetenschappen, 2010) and two years after its English translation (A New History of theHumanities, 2013) the academic landscape has thoroughly changed.

To shed light on these changes I wrote fresh Prefaces to the recent fifth edition of the Dutch book and to the new paperback edition of the English book. Here I print them in full:

Bij de vijfde druk

Vijf jaar na het eerste verschijnen van De vergeten wetenschappen is het wetenschappelijke landschap veranderd. De ‘Geschiedenis van de Geesteswetenschappen’ is van een onbestaand vakgebied uitgegroeid tot een bloeiende discipline met een eigen tijdschrift (History of Humanities), een jaarlijkse conferentie (The Making of the Humanities) en een groeiend aantal boekpublicaties. In Nederland verwijzen zowel NWO als de KNAW naar De vergeten wetenschappen wanneer zij het belang van kruisbestuivingen tussen wetenschapsgebieden willen laten zien. Zo valt in de Implementatienota NWO-strategie 2015-2018 (‘Toekomstgerichte geesteswetenschappen’, p. 7) te lezen: ‘En omgekeerd dragen geesteswetenschappen met hun manier van werken ook bij aan de ontwikkelingen in die andere wetenschapsgebieden, zoals Rens Bod in zijn in 2010 verschenen boek De vergeten wetenschappen. Een geschiedenis van de humaniora overtuigend heeft aangetoond.’ En de KNAW schrijft in haar Contouren van een Vernieuwings- en Stimuleringsprogramma (2012, pp. 10-11): ‘Dat het verschil tussen beide wetenschapsgebieden in de praktijk echter minder principieel is dan vaak wordt gedacht laat Bod zien in zijn boek De vergeten wetenschappen (2010). Hij geeft aan dat door de eeuwen heen de grens tussen de wetenschapsgebieden die we momenteel aanduiden met natuur- en geesteswetenschappen flinterdun was en dat geesteswetenschappelijke onderzoekers wel degelijk ruim hebben bijgedragen aan het verklaren van fenomenen en verschijnselen.’

Deze quotes laten zien hoe nodig een overzichtsgeschiedenis van de geesteswetenschappen was en is. De geesteswetenschappen staan nog steeds onder immense druk en weinigen realiseren zich dat zonder de humaniora het hele wetenschappelijke bestel ineenstort. Er is ook hoop: zo heeft het idee van de eenheid van geestes- en natuurwetenschappen onder bèta’s een gevoelige snaar geraakt. Het Amerikaanse tijdschrift Scientific American wijdt in het juninummer van 2015 een column aan de Engelse vertaling van mijn boek (A New History of the Humanities) en concludeert dat ‘Regardless of which university building scholars inhabit, we are all working toward the same goal of improving our understanding of the true nature of things, and that is the way of both the sciences and the humanities, a scientia humanitatis’.

Hoe intrigerend deze ontwikkelingen ook zijn, mijn grootste bron van inspiratie blijven de geanimeerde discussies met mijn lezers, vooral met de studenten die mijn boek als collegestof gebruiken. Het boek en zijn vertalingen hebben onder meer hun weg gevonden bij de studies Filosofie, Wetenschapsgeschiedenis, Cultuurgeschiedenis, Mediastudies, Cognitiewetenschappen en Liberal Arts & Sciences-opleidingen – van Europa en de vs tot China. Ik ben mijn lezers buitengewoon dankbaar voor alle feedback en kritiek die ik heb ontvangen. Nieuws en updates over het boek en over de geschiedenis van de geesteswetenschappen zijn te vinden op het gewoonlijke weblog:

Preface to the Paperback Edition 

Five years after the publication of the original Dutch book (De Vergeten Wetenschappen, 2010) and two years after its English translation (A New History of the Humanities, 2013) the academic landscape has changed. The “History of the Humanities” has developed from a non-existing field into a flourishing discipline with its own journal (History of Humanities), an annual conference (The Making of the Humanities), an academic society (Society for the History of the Humanities) and several monographs. An increasing number of universities across the globe are teaching the History of the Humanities on par with the History of Science, and the premier journal in the History of Science, Isis, has recently devoted a special Focus section on The History of Humanities and the History of Science (June 2015). It seems that the humanistic disciplines have been brought back to their rightful place in the family tree of knowledge.

Nevertheless, in terms of funding and student numbers the humanities continue to be under immense pressure. Few people realize that without the humanistic disciplines the entire academic system would collapse. A general history of the humanities and their relations to the sciences remains thus more urgent than ever. But there are also signs of hope: the idea of the unicity of humanities and science has hit a nerve among natural scientists. The June 2015 issue of Scientific American dedicated a column to A New History of the Humanities concluding that “Regardless of which university building scholars inhabit, we are all working toward the same goal of improving our understanding of the true nature of things, and that is the way of both the sciences and the humanities, a scientia humanitatis.”

However intriguing these developments are, my greatest source of inspiration remain the animated discussions with my readers, especially with the students who use my work as a textbook. The book and its translations have found their way in courses in philosophy, history of science, cultural history, media studies, literary criticism, and in liberal arts programs. I am most grateful for the feedback and criticism I received from my readers. News and updates about the book and about the history of the humanities in general can be found on the weblogs devergetenwetenschappen. (for all translations) and (for the English translation).

woensdag 5 augustus 2015

The Danish Weekendavisen reviews "A New History of the Humanities"

Frederik Stjernfelt has reviewed my book A New History of the Humanities in the Danish highbrow newspaper Weekendadvisen. Here are a couple of excerpts:

"… an impressive work giving an overview strongly missed – as well as restoring the humanities to a central and surprising place in the general history of science."

("… et imponerende værk, der både giver et stærkt savnet overblik - og gengiver humaniora en overraskende og central plads i den almindelige videnskabshistorie.")

From the conclusion:

"From a broad picture one can say that Bod takes the humanities back to their rightful place in the family tree of sciences. (…) With Bod's impressive work we can see that relativisms have existed as a sub-current of skeptical "anomalists" ever since the Alexandrian philologists – but also that they have always been defeated by the main tradition of the humanities: to contribute, with pattern seeking on a long series of decisive issues, to the overall development of human knowledge."

("I det store billede kan man sige, at Bod fører humaniora tilbage til dens retmæssige plads i videnskabernes stamtræ. (…) Med Bods imponerende værk kan vi nu se, at sådanne relativismer har existeret som en understrømning af skeptiske "anomalister" lige siden filologerne i Alexandria, - men også, at de altid er blevet overvundet af humanioras hovedtradition: at bidrage, med "mønstersøgning" på en lang række afgørende punkter, til den samlede udvikling af menneskelig viden.")

Click here for the full review (behind a paywall).