Text Technologies and Epistemic Reading

Project leaders: Prof. Dr. Paul Wouters
Postdoc Researcher: Wolfgang Kaltenbrunner
Duration: 2009 - 2011

Policy makers and historiographers alike frequently refer to the advent of the printing press and the emergence of digital tools for disciplines such as literary studies and philology as revolutionary events that give rise to distinctively new epistemic regimes in the study of texts. This project will propose a critical view of the range of accounts, originating in very different contexts, which construe the advent of printing and ICTs as crucial points in history where technology as a singular phenomenon invades and distinctively alters society and scholarship.

I aim to assess the actual relation between innovations of instrumental technologies and text scholarship. My principal research question, then, is this: how is the introduction of novel technologies for producing, editing, processing, and disseminating texts related to changes in text scholarship as a practice of knowledge production around the 16th century and today?

This question is divided into the following subquestions:

  1. How are novel text technologies integrated into everyday practices of text scholarship circa 1600 and today?
  2. How are these technologies co-constructed by political and religious authorities, policy makers, scholars, and other relevant parties?
  3. How is their use related to the performance of scholarly identity?
  4. What does the historical view on changes in text scholarship circa 1600 imply for the much hailed perspective of an emerging e-science infrastructure in the humanities today?

The second phase of the project is carried out at CWTS, Leiden.                            

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