The Gotha Research Centre is concerned with the history of culture and knowledge in the modern era. In this sense, we are interested in both elaborate forms of knowledge - philosophy, scholarship, natural history, arcane knowledge, especially with a view to the prehistory of the later humanities and cultural studies - as well as in more practical forms of knowledge, whether these are institutionally formed (e.g. administrative, state and legal knowledge) or predominantly experience-based (practical knowledge, lay or everyday knowledge, "tacit knowledge"). The epistemological focus of our research lies particularly on knowledge production, i.e. the practices that produce and structure knowledge. In addition to knowledge passed down in texts, we examine both pictorial knowledge - stored, for example, in emblematic representations, graphics or maps - and, especially, objects and collections as material stores of knowledge.
Our research thus unites a broad variety of topics, ranging from the classical history of ideas to the cultural history of collecting to current new approaches in historical science research (history of science, history of scholarship), and which is always linked to other disciplines in history and cultural studies. In keeping with the ducal collections in the Gotha Research Library and the Schloss Friedenstein Foundation (Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha), the temporal focus of our work is the early modern period from around 1500 to 1800, including its transitions.
Methodologically, we are committed to a culturally informed, theoretically reflected and at the same time source-oriented approach. The specific history of knowledge at Gotha is thus just as interested in practices as in ideas and discourses, in spatial relations, visual media and material things as in complex theoretical contexts. In addition, it constantly takes up the thematic and methodological suggestions from the research projects of our scholarship holders and guest researchers in order to further contour the programme of a transdisciplinary, collection-related history of knowledge and to make it fruitful for the empirical work with the Gotha holdings.
Our research focus and projects are thereby grouped around the following three fields:
Practices of Scholarship - Knowledge Production - Arcane Knowledge
Collection History - Material Culture - Global Networks of Knowledge
Court - Socialisation - Enlightenment