Rodin’s Thinker, the New Deal, and Libraries as Spaces of Knowledge

Commenting on his famous work Le Penseur,  or The Thinker,  a century ago, the French sculptor Auguste Rodin described his subject in terms of its utter (masculine) physicality. "What makes my Thinker think is that he thinks not only with his brain, with his knitted brow, his distended nostrils and compressed lips, but with every … Continue reading Rodin’s Thinker, the New Deal, and Libraries as Spaces of Knowledge

The History of Knowledge: Limits and Potentials of a New Approach

In the German humanities, the term Wissensgeschichte, or history of knowledge, is enjoying frequent use. Some years ago, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ) and the University of Zurich created a Centre for the History of Knowledge or, as it is called in German, the Zentrum für Geschichte des Wissens (ZGW). Philosophers, historians of … Continue reading The History of Knowledge: Limits and Potentials of a New Approach

Some Useful Categories of Knowledge for Understanding Migration

A good decision is based on knowledge… –Plato   I never thought Plato and I shared a common scholarly interest. My research on the millions of eastern Europeans who emigrated to the United States (ancestors of the subjects of Bruce Springsteen songs) at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries seemed far removed from what … Continue reading Some Useful Categories of Knowledge for Understanding Migration

Welcome to ‘History of Knowledge’

Knowledge does not simply exist, awaiting discovery and use. Knowledge is produced, adapted, forgotten, rejected, superseded, expanded, reconfigured, and more—always by human beings (at least in this more-or-less pre-AI age), alone or in communities, always in culturally, socially, economically, and institutionally specific contexts. Knowledge is central to most purposeful human practices, whether at work, in … Continue reading Welcome to ‘History of Knowledge’