The research group Topics and Tradition which is funded by the DFG (German Research Foundation) was established in September 2005. Since then, its members have inquired into the structures of tradition and into the changing structures of knowledge in six exemplary projects from the fields of history, art history, philosophy, sinology, and literary studies.
Our main thesis is that the unravelling of traditions and the fragmentation and rearrangement of knowledge between c. 1200 and c. 1700 was patterned on topics and that topics were, therefore, at the basis of knowledge generation and transmission during the Late Middles Ages and early modern period – a time during which knowledge transfer was becoming increasingly rapid and academic, legal, iconic and cultural topoi were swept along in a swirl of constant change.
This raises the question of whether this notion of a topically structured change of knowledge is valid only for the period between the 13th and 17th centuries. Should it rather be applied more generally, i. e. whenever one is concerned with the principles according to which knowledge changes? While these questions open up new perspectives for future research, they also influence and stimulate our current work besides providing the potential for interaction and dialogue with researchers working on related themes.
We expect our research project to bring about a better understanding of the internal structures of research strategies in the humanities, cultural studies and social sciences making them more accessible to definition and conceptualisation. This should help us to avoid the use of undifferentiated and mutually incompatible social, intertextual and cause-and-effect models within the humanities, cultural studies and social sciences.
Das Ziel der Forscherguppe ist, ein begriffliches und methodisches Instrumentarium zur Beschreibung des Wissenswandels in Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit zu entwickeln und zu erproben. Dies geschieht anhand von Fallbeispielen, an denen sich das theoretische Konzept der Forschergruppe als tragfähig erweisen muss. Die zentrale These, die allen Einzelstudien zugrunde liegt und die gemeinsamen Diskussionen strukturiert, ist, dass die einzelnen Aspekte des Wissenswandels – Fragmentierung, Neuordnung und Generierung der Wissensbestände – sich im Spannungsfeld von Topik und Tradition fachübergreifend erfassend und analysieren lassen. (more ...)
A1Christian Kabbalah: Topic and History. Fragmentation and Syncretism in an Early Modern Philosophic-Theological History of Knowledge (Wilhelm Schmidt-Biggemann)
C1 Hospital Reforms in France, Italy and Germany from the 14th to the 16th Centuries (Matthias Thumser)
C2 The Theory of the Intellect and Ethics: How Albertus Magnus Fragmented the Ethical Tradition Derived from Late Antiquity, the Early Middle Ages and Christianity and Rearranged it According to the Theory of the Intellect (Günter Frank)
D1 Signa & Res: Renaissance Pictural Allegories from the 14th to the 16th centuries (Klaus Krüger)
D2 Hermetics & Poetry: Transmission of Hermetic Knowledge in 17th-Century Literary Texts (Peter-André Alt)
D3 Ecphrasis: Literariness and Tradition in Late Medieval and Early Modern English Literature (Andrew James Johnston)