Göttingen Spirit Summerschool:
Collecting and the Knowledge of Objects
5th - 10th September 2016


Early modern cabinets of curiosities/Wunderkammern can be considered as an important space especially for those developing sciences that wanted to transcend text based scholasticism and base their knowledge solely on experience. Scholarly engagement with collections laid the foundations for knowledge production that was based on experiment and research with and on objects. Since this development took shape during the 17th century, collecting, storing, ordering, and the presentation of objects has become a strong concern for many academic disciplines. Accordingly, technologies that transformed things into objects of knowledge and rendered them accessible and sustainable are equally practical as well as epistemological techniques. Current research in the history of science and knowledge focusses increasingly on practices of collecting, ordering and presenting. Thus highlighting how scientific research and its results are intertwined with and rely upon different cultures of materiality and the handling of objects is the main concern of the summer school.

In addition to questions concerning the role of objects and collections in the processes of knowledge production, we would also like to address the state and development of object based research in the humanities. How can humanities research be enhanced by engaging with objects? Which methods and theories can be successfully employed in order to achieve meaningful knowledge about these processes on a medium and larger scale?

Each day of the summer school will be dedicated to a specific topic where four PhD candidates will present their research and give an introduction to their projects, with one expert commenting and leading the discussion for each project.

As we acknowledge the epistemic value of engaging with objects, visits to the relevant academic collections at the University of Göttingen are an integral part of the program. Two of our experts, Kim Sloan and Emma Spary, will also give keynote lectures on Monday and Wednesday respectively. On Thursday evening, Anne Mariss will introduce her recent book "A world of new things". Praktiken der Naturgeschichte bei Johann Reinhold Forster (Johann Reinhold Forster and the practices of natural history), thereby reflecting on her process of writing a thesis on praxeological aspects of knowledge production and engaging with material culture.