Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities

Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities

by James Turner

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Overview

A prehistory of today's humanities, from ancient Greece to the early twentieth century

Many today do not recognize the word, but "philology" was for centuries nearly synonymous with humanistic intellectual life, encompassing not only the study of Greek and Roman literature and the Bible but also all other studies of language and literature, as well as history, culture, art, and more. In short, philology was the queen of the human sciences. How did it become little more than an archaic word?

In Philology, the first history of Western humanistic learning as a connected whole ever published in English, James Turner tells the fascinating, forgotten story of how the study of languages and texts led to the modern humanities and the modern university. The humanities today face a crisis of relevance, if not of meaning and purpose. Understanding their common origins—and what they still share—has never been more urgent.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691168586
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 09/15/2015
Series: The William G. Bowen Series , #70
Pages: 576
Sales rank: 1,218,250
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

James Turner is the Cavanaugh Professor of Humanities Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, where he taught in the History Department and the doctoral program in history and philosophy of science.

Table of Contents

Prologue ix

Conventions xix

Acknowledgments xxiii

PART I. FROM THE FIRST PHILOLOGISTS TO 1800 1

1. "Cloistered Bookworms, Quarreling Endlessly in the Muses' Bird-Cage": From Greek Antiquity to circa 1400 3

2. "A Complete Mastery of Antiquity": Renaissance, Reformation, and Beyond 33

3. "A Voracious and Undistinguishing Appetite": British Philology to the Mid-Eighteenth Century 65

4. "Deep Erudition Ingeniously Applied": Revolutions of the Later Eighteenth Century 91

PART II. ON THE BRINK OF THE MODERN HUMANITIES, 1800 TO THE MID-NINETEENTH CENTURY 123

5. "The Similarity of Structure Which Pervades All Languages": From Philology to Linguistics, 1800-1850 125

6. "Genuinely National Poetry and Prose": Literary Philology and Literary Studies, 1800-1860 147

7. "An Epoch in Historical Science": The Civilized Past, 1800-1850 167

I. Altertumswissenschaft and Classical Studies 168

II. Archaeology 184

III. History 197

8. "Grammatical and Exegetical Tact": Biblical Philology and Its Others, 1800-1860 210

PART III. THE MODERN HUMANITIES IN THE MODERN UNIVERSITY, THE MID-NINETEENTH TO THE TWENTIETH CENTURY 231

9. "This Newly Opened Mine of Scientific Inquiry": Between History and Nature: Linguistics after 1850 236

10. "Painstaking Research Quite Equal to Mathematical Physics": Literature, 1860-1920 254

11. "No Tendency toward Dilettantism": The Civilized Past after 1850 274

I. ‘Classics' Becomes a Discipline 275

II. History 299

III. Art History 310

12. "The Field Naturalists of Human Nature": Anthropology Congeals into a Discipline, 1840-1910 328

13. "The Highest and Most Engaging of the Manifestations of Human Nature": Biblical Philology and the Rise of Religious Studies after 1860 357

I. The Fate of Biblical Philology 357

II. The Rise of Comparative Religious Studies 368

Epilogue 381

Notes 387

Works Cited 453

Index 509

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Finally, we have a careful study of the historical foundations in philology of most of the modern humanistic disciplines. Turner shows in detail how these disciplines—including art history, linguistics, religious studies, anthropology, classics, and literary scholarship—developed out of philology in a dynamic similar to that by which the physical sciences emerged out of natural philosophy and the social sciences out of moral philosophy."—David A. Hollinger, University of California, Berkeley

"This very important and necessary book displays the qualities that have long marked James Turner's scholarship—deftness, wit, and clarity. This is a work whose humanity matches that of its subject."—Michael O'Brien, University of Cambridge

"This fascinating book makes a powerful argument: that the modern humanities derived in large part from the broad tradition of philology. This genealogy, Turner shows, clarifies the origins of both the modern research university and its disciplines, and explains similarities between such apparently diverse fields as history and comparative religion. He offers a compelling account of the role that biblical studies played in the intellectual history of modern Britain and America, and he makes sense of the development of modern literary studies in a way that no historian has managed to before. This is a gripping intellectual detective story."—Anthony Grafton, Princeton University

"Turner's exceptionally wide-ranging study shows in detail how Western culture has become, and has remained, distinctively philological."—Tom Shippey

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