Epistemic Inequality

Andrew Piper and I recently completed the first essay in a larger project on knowledge norms and publishing. “Publication, Power, Patronage: On Inequality and Academic Publishing” will be out soon in Critical Inquiry. Our hope for the broader project is to help mitigate the profound ignorance that we scholars, ourselves included, have of our own institutions. We are also trying to imagine what epistemic equality might look like, both as a concept and an institutional reality. Continue reading

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Permanent Crisis: The Humanities in a Disenchanted Age

In the winter of 1872, Friedrich Nietzsche, then a classics professor still in his mid-twenties, delivered a series of lectures on the future of education in Germany . They were held in Basel, where Nietzsche was working then. When he arrived in 1869 from Leipzig to this Swiss enclave on the Rhine, he encountered an old European humanism. Late nineteenth-century Basel was a city-republic and its patrician elite prided itself on being untimely. This was the hometown of historian Jacob Burckhardt, who pitted an idealized Italian Renaissance against a Prussian modernity of metropolises, capitalism, and bureaucracy. And so over five nights, three hundred of Basel’s cultured elite crowded into the city museum in the Augustinerstraße to hear Nietzsche’s jeremiad against an educational system that was supposed to be the best in the world, but that was, in his view, on the verge of collapse. Continue reading

The Visibility of Knowledge

I am happy to announce that a new collaboration with Andrew Piper’s .txtLab and Mohamed Cheriet’s Synrchomedia Lab has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The project is called “The Visibility of Knowledge: The Computational Study of Scientific Illustration in the Nineteenth Century.” Our aim is to study how scientific knowledge became visible to readers over the course of the nineteenth century using new computational techniques in image detection. Continue reading