Cover image for Philology : the forgotten origins of the modern humanities
Philology : the forgotten origins of the modern humanities
Turner, James, 1946- , author.
Publication Information:
Princeton, New Jersey : Princeton University Press, [2014]

Physical Description:
xxiv, 550 pages ; 24 cm
"Cloistered bookworms, quarreling endlessly in the muses' bird-cage": from Greek antiquity to circa 1400 -- "A complete mastery of antiquity": Renaissance, Reformation, and beyond -- "A voracious and undistinguishing appetite": British philology to the mid-eighteenth century -- "Deep erudition ingeniously applied": revolutions of the later eighteenth century -- "The similarity of structure which pervades all languages": from philology to linguistics, 1800-1850 -- "Genuinely national poetry and prose": literary philology and literary studies, 1800-1860 -- "An epoch in historical science": the civilized past, 1800-1850. I. Altertumswissenschaft and classical studies. II. Archaeology. III. History -- "Grammatical and exegetical tact": biblical philology and its others, 1800-1860 -- "This newly opened mine of scientific inquiry": between history and nature: linguistics after 1850 -- "Painstaking research quite equal to mathematical physics": literature, 1860-1920 -- "No tendency toward dilettantism": the civilized past after 1850. I. 'Classics' becomes a discipline. II. History. III. Art history -- "The field naturalists of human nature": anthropology congeals into a discipline, 1840-1910 -- "The highest and most engaging of the manifestations of human nature": biblical philology and the rise of religious studies after 1860. I. The fate of biblical philology. II. The rise of comparative religious studies -- Epilogue.
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P61 .T87 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Many today do not recognize the word, but "philology" was for centuries nearly synonymous with humanistic intellectual life, encompassing not only the study of Greek and Roman literature and the Bible but also all other studies of language and literature, as well as history, culture, art, and more. In short, philology was the queen of the human sciences. How did it become little more than an archaic word?

In Philology , the first history of Western humanistic learning as a connected whole ever published in English, James Turner tells the fascinating, forgotten story of how the study of languages and texts led to the modern humanities and the modern university. The humanities today face a crisis of relevance, if not of meaning and purpose. Understanding their common origins--and what they still share--has never been more urgent.

Author Notes

James Turner is the Cavanaugh Professor of Humanities Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, where he taught in the History Department and the doctoral program in history and philosophy of science.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this weighty, scholarly tome, Turner (Religion Enters the Academy), Cavanaugh Professor of humanities at Notre Dame, attempts to cover the concept of philology, "the multifaceted study of texts, languages, and the phenomenon of language itself." He expresses a rather peculiar affinity for the maligned and forgotten progenitor of the humanities, claiming it to be "put down, kicked around, abused, and snickered at" by modern academics, personifying it as "totter[ing] along with arthritic creakiness... its gaunt torso clad in a frock coat." But, he says, "it used to be chic, dashing, and much ampler in girth." That characterization aside, he traces philology's origins and history, from Greek rhetoric to the Renaissance, on through the dawn of the modern humanities in the 19th-century and finally into its 20th-century decline. The story he tells is of a wide-ranging, all-encompassing field of learning that was forced to grow, evolve, and eventually spawn its successors over the centuries. "Philology began a prolonged process of fragmentation and re-formation. Tasks long seen as facets of a single enterprise hived off as semiautonomous areas of scholarship." Turner's examination is thorough, occasionally wry, passionate, and yet painfully dense, suited more for a doctoral program than casual reader; the sort of work that may be heralded as a masterpiece in the field, as overlooked and ill-appreciated as its subject. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Turner (Cavanaugh Professor of Humanities, Univ. of Notre Dame) has written an extensive work on the forgotten subject of philology. He explains that while philology has "fallen on hard times" it is the discipline in which many of the humanities and certain social sciences had their origins. While, according to Turner, the subject has become largely forgotten today because many view it as just the study of old texts. He illustrates that it has a much broader application and includes the study of the history, evolution, and structures of not only texts but also languages. In the author's examples throughout history, he shows how philology's methods of scholarship reached many different areas, from history to biblical research to literature studies. Turner's work is very thorough and yet easy to read. VERDICT Scholars and students will find this a rewarding volume. Turner does a fantastic job of introducing how the history of philology is also, in turn, a chronicle of the various branches of the humanities and why looking at this connection might help demonstrate the humanities' worth among academic disciplines.-Scott Duimstra, Capital Area Dist. Lib., Lansing, MI (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Turner (humanities, Notre Dame) traces the origin of the modern academic disciplines of the humanities to ancient philology, the study of texts and languages. After a brief history of the study of philology, the author concentrates on the 19th century, during which academic disciplines were largely formed and new ones created, such as anthropology and comparative religious studies. Turner explains the philological basis of such disciplines as art history and archaeology as the analysis of physical objects as texts. Curiously, he excludes philosophy, usually regarded as a charter member of the humanities. An interesting aspect of this work is the importance of biblical studies, which began by establishing (insofar as possible) the original text in the original languages and proceeded to broader questions, such as historical accuracy. Another interesting theme is the leadership of German scholars in the most advanced academic thinking, a movement that was tragically to end with the Nazi suppression of intellectual life. The book is a blizzard of names. Although Turner tries to insert some arresting fact about each scholar he mentions, in the end, one cannot help but be overwhelmed. --Evelyn Edson, Piedmont Virginia Community College

Table of Contents

Prologuep. ix
Conventionsp. xix
Acknowledgmentsp. xxiii
Part I From The First Philologists To 1800p. 1
1 "Cloistered Bookworms, Quarreling Endlessly in the Muses' Bird-Cage": From Greek Antiquity to circa 1400p. 3
2 "A Complete Mastery of Antiquity": Renaissance, Reformation, and Beyondp. 33
3 "A Voracious and Undistinguishing Appetite": British Philology to the Mid-Eighteenth Centuryp. 65
4 "Deep Erudition Ingeniously Applied": Revolutions of the Later Eighteenth Centuryp. 91
Part II On The Brink Of The Modern Humanities, 1800 To The Mid-Nineteenth Centuryp. 123
5 "The Similarity of Structure Which Pervades All Languages": From Philology to Linguistics, 1800-1850p. 125
6 "Genuinely National Poetry and Prose": Literary Philology and Literary Studies, 1800-1860p. 147
7 "An Epoch in Historical Science": The Civilized Past, 1800-1850p. 167
I Altertumswissenschaft and Classical Studiesp. 168
II Archaeologyp. 184
III Historyp. 197
8 "Grammatical and Exegetical Tact": Biblical Philology and Its Others, 1800-1860p. 210
Part III The Modern Humanities In The Modern University, The Mid-Nineteenth To The Twentieth Centuryp. 231
9 "This Newly Opened Mine of Scientific Inquiry": Between History and Nature: Linguistics after 1850p. 236
10 "Painstaking Research Quite Equal to Mathematical Physics": Literature, 1860-1920p. 254
11 "No Tendency toward Dilettantism": The Civilized Past after 1850p. 274
I 'Classics' Becomes a Disciplinep. 275
II Historyp. 299
III Art Historyp. 310
12 "The Field Naturalists of Human Nature": Anthropology Congeals into a Discipline, 1840-1910p. 328
13 "The Highest and Most Engaging of the Manifestations of Human Nature": Biblical Philology and the Rise of Religious Studies after 1860p. 357
I The Fate of Biblical Philologyp. 357
II The Rise of Comparative Religious Studiesp. 368
Epiloguep. 381
Notesp. 387
Works Citedp. 453
Indexp. 509