WissensWelten – Conference of the Working Group on Early Modern History, 19 – 21 September 2024

"WissensWelten"- Theme of the Conference 2024

The conference addresses two aspects of early modern history as the history of knowledge: On the one hand, it considers knowledge cultures and milieus such as court, city and university, but by no means restricted to only academic and taught knowledge, but above all its interaction with other types of knowledge such as social, pictorial and craft-related knowledge. Last but not least, we will also address the knowledge embedded in practices and material culture, its ties to class and gender, its circulation in networks and media.

On the other hand, the term "knowledge worlds" aims at a globalisation and decentring of our perspective: focusing on knowledge in and from other world regions. The global history of knowledge, however, is more than just a reconstruction of knowledge cultures in non-European milieus. It tackles the connections and non-connections of knowledge worlds, of isolation or penetration, of transfer or the refusal of transfer.

Thus WissensWelten means both: knowledge cultures and global history of knowledge.

The topic is inspired by the research focus practised at the Gotha Research Centre, and it also draws on the location of the residence city: Courtly knowledge – archived in large collections, libraries and archives – free from academic constraints, but connected to dynastic representation, with its proximity to military, artistic and possibly even alchemical-laboratory know-how is a paradigmatic case for the history of knowledge – and it can be observed just as well in Gotha as in Istanbul, Delhi, Beijing or Mexico City. There were worlds of knowledge in all these locations, and reports about the worlds of knowledge beyond Gotha can be found everywhere in the archives.

Thus, according to our conceptualisation, the conference should span a wide range of topics and include panels on both European and non-European cultures of knowledge and on their interconnections.

The Call for Papers will be issued in spring 2023.

Illustration for the Second Akbar-nama: left half of a miniature in the Chester Beatty Library, In03.236
Roundtable discussion at Mughal Court with Akbar, Jesuits and Muslim scholars
Early modern depiction of a midwife at work
Midwife at work, from: Jakob Rueff: Ein schön lustig Trostbüchle ..., Zurich 1554.
Early modern depiction of an alchemist
Thomas Wyck: Interior with alchemist (painting)
Early modern depiction of the anatomical lecture hall in Leiden
Willem Isaacsz Swanenburgh: Anatomical Theater of Leiden University (1610)