Seminar: Rens Bod @History of Knowledge Seminar Series

All are invited to join the meeting of the History of Knowledge Seminar Series

Rens Bod (UvA)
‘Why We Need a Polycentric Approach to the History of Knowledge’

Date: Thursday 21 October 2021
Time: 15:30-17:00 (CEST)
Place: Online (Microsft Teams)
* Registration is not required. Please find the link to the meeting below this message *


In this talk I will argue for a polycentric and polydiscipinary perspective on the history of knowledge. Such a perspective allows us to discover tendencies that cross disciplines, periods and regions, and that suggest alternative chronologies in the history of knowledge making. We have found, for example, a process from descriptive to prescriptive in the practices of writing grammars, and of describing the shapes of planetary orbits. These practices were descriptive for some time – in various knowledge centers – but became prescriptive in later periods, after which they turned descriptive again (in most of these centers but in different periods). I will argue that this kind of longue durée tendencies provides insight into the nature of knowledge creation itself and its long-term development.  


Rens Bod is Professor of Digital Humanities and History of Humanities, Director of the Center for Digital Humanities, and Director of the Vossius Center for the History of Humanities and Sciences at the University of Amsterdam. He investigates the humanities from both computational and historical perspectives. His historical work focuses on the comparative history of the humanities from a world-wide perspective. Bod is a founding editor of the journal History of Humanities and the initiator of the conference series The Making of the Humanities. His many books have been translated into several languages. A fully revised and updated edition of A New History of the Humanities: The Search for Principles and Patterns from Antiquity to the Present appeared from OUP in 2015. In 2019, he published A World of Patterns: The History of Knowledge (Prometheus).  

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– – – 
Lukas M. Verburgt, organizer

Elske de Waal, organizational assistant

History of Knowledge Seminar Series @ Utrecht University

Photo: By Festival della Scienza –, CC BY-SA 2.0,

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