Digital Palaeography and Imaging Science – Historische Grundwissenschaften

Cooperation project with the State University Library (Prof. Dr. Wolfram Horstmann).
The Volkswagen Foundation is funding the project as part of the programme "Small Subjects Communicate World Knowledge".

Contact: Prof. Dr Winfried Rudolf, Prof. Dr Martin Langner
Staff member: N.N.


Studying and understanding the origins of script and its various developments over the centuries is fundamental to every kind of linguistic, literary, historical, media and communication studies. In the digital age, the profound shift from the material handwritten and print medium to the digital hypertext jeopardizes the future of individual handwriting, its manifold technologies and its role for the understanding of the human past. Understanding handwritten code in all its global manifestations is an undeniable precondition for accessing the Weltwissen of past centuries and its inscribed archives. Recent decades have seen a matchless increase in digitization projects of cultural repositories and these projects stand in paradoxical contrast to an evident lack of qualified researchers who would still be able to study these documents with academic depth and precision. This is due to an on-going decline of the small subject of Historische Grundwissenschaften, especially the discipline of palaeography. This trend is even more regrettable because recent imaging technologies as well as investigative material analysis offer a vast range of fresh and unprecedented research opportunities into Weltwissen, producing new spectacular discoveries almost on a daily basis.
The main aim and strategic concept of the measure proposed here is both to save the rare subject of Historische Grundwissenschaften in research and teaching and to combine its traditional characteristics with a modern, forward-looking, approach that involves the introduction and practical use of the latest digital technologies of the digital recovery and automated recognition of handwritten text, commensurate with the demands of the twenty-first century. The measure seeks to establish a Lecturer Position „Digital Palaeography and Imaging Science“ (wiss. MA-Stelle TV-L E 14) at the Institute for Digital Humanities in the University of Göttingen in collaboration with the Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen (SUB), alongside with the provision of mobile imaging technology, a new curriculum, the liaison with expert scholars and institutions worldwide as well as the international workshops, summer schools, and a public exhibition. By supporting this rare subject this measure will collectively strengthen a number of other rare subjects.