Funding for project ‘Scholarly journals and the disciplinary formation of the modern humanities in Sweden’

Isak Hammar, associate professor of History and member of LUCK’s Nordic Advisory Board has received funding for a three-year project entitled Scholarly journals and the disciplinary formation of the modern humanities in Sweden, c. 1850-1920 from the Swedish Research Council.

The project explores the impact of changing publishing patterns in the humanities in Sweden between c. 1850 and 1920, a period during which the scholarly journal developed into a medium for specialized scientific knowledge. The main aim is thereby to analyze how journals became part of specialization, professionalization, and internationalization in the humanities and what it meant for how scholars produced and circulated knowledge. Basically: How did humanist scholars alter their publishing habits and what effect did it have on the disciplines of the humanities?

In history of science, previous scholarship have shown a great deal of interest in the role of academic, learned and/or scientific journals for decades, convincingly demonstrating how journals became crucial for the negotiation of modern standards and ideals in the natural sciences, medicine, and technology. So far however – curiously perhaps – parallel developments in the humanities have not been subject to similar scrutiny.

Nevertheless, disciplinary journals began to appear in the decades leading up the turn of the century. Looking to the natural sciences, key aspects of this changing landscape included new boundaries being erected between different scientific disciplines as well as between amateurs and professionals, and academic and public spheres. Furthermore, scientific journals were instrumental in creating new audiences and scientific communities. Building on these insights, the project seeks to bridge the history of science with the history of humanities by providing comparative insights on how humanistic journals followed or diverged from those found in natural science, medicine, or technology.

Many of the questions relating to publishing are still a major concern in academia today. One recurring motif is how publishing practices in the humanities relates to STEM publication ideals and how bibliometric pressure hampers (traditional) humanistic forms of publication, such as the book or essay. In this project, such questions are approached historically, exploring how the increasing impact of the journal article has challenged and provided opportunities for the humanities; to circulate knowledge, engaging new audiences and networks, and gain epistemological status.

More on scholarly publication in the humanities can be found in:

Hammar, Isak. “Measuring Up to the Humanities: Navigating the Epistemological Advantage of Classical Humanism in Nineteenth-Century Scholarly Periodicals.” The Humanities and the Modern Politics of Knowledge: The Impact and Organization of the Humanities in Sweden, 1850-2020, edited by Anders Ekström and Hampus Östh Gustafsson, Amsterdam University Press, 2022, pp. 39–60. Open Access: JSTOR,

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