In the last decades the concept of knowledge has gravitated to the center of an increasing number of conversations, about society, about politics, about economy, and about history. Even before Trumpism made knowledge – fake news and corrupt scientists – one of the most contested issues in political discourse, knowledge had emerged as the content of economies, societies, communities, and institutions, replacing other, more familiar resources, like work, fossil fuels, machines, even money. Symptomatically, the concept of “knowledge” itself has taken on two distinct new sets of meaning, in the references to “knowledge economy” or “knowledge society” as well as in discourses on inter-, trans-, cross-, or post-disciplinarity, in the name of something called “knowledge”. 

At the same time, knowledge, as concept, practice, and commodity, and more, has come into view as factor and indicator of historical change, in the present as well as in the past. For this workshop, we will engage with the history of knowledge, not as a discipline or even a proto-discipline, but as a vibrant field, in which history is theorized and theory is historicized. It is our assumption that history of knowledge presents an opportunity to rethink several of the fundamental questions in the theory of history, while at the same time confronting a wide range of empirical materials, spanning periods, languages, cultures, and discourses.

The aim of this workshop is to identify some the most pressing questions and issues emerging in the history of knowledge, in terms of a broad field with a long history, filled with concepts, theories, practices, and materials, while also responding to some of the most prominent dilemmas of our time. To achieve this we invite a group of scholars with long-standing or more recent investments in the history of knowledge, coming at it from different directions and traditions. More than anything else, history of knowledge today emerges as a crossroads, where scholars from different disciplines and traditions meet, such as history of science, intellectual history, cultural history, medical history, but also sociology of knowledge, STS, and cultural anthropology, and where new overlaps, interfaces, connections and contrasts emerge and develop.


Only for invited guests.



May 10



09.30 – 10.00

Welcome and introduction by Gary Shaw (Wesleyan/H&T) and Helge Jordheim (Oslo/CAS)

10.00 – 11.30

Federico Marcon (Princeton): Writing the History of Knowledge in Early Modern Japan.

Commentator: Alan Megill (Virginia)                   

11.30 – 12.30


12.30 – 14.00

Suzanne Marchand (Louisiana): Porcelain: Another Kind of Classical Education.

Commentator: Kristin Asdal (Oslo)


Coffee break


Lisa Gitelman (NYU): Popular Kinematics, Anonymous Technology, Perpetual Motion.

Commentator: Daniel Rosenberg (Oregon)

15.45 -16.00

Coffee break with cake


Jeremy A. Greene (Johns Hopkins): Knowledge in media res: Toward a media history of science, medicine, and technology.

Commentator: Espen Ytreberg (Oslo/CAS)


Dinner for all participants


May 11

9.00 – 09.30


09.30 – 11.00

Johan Östling (Lund): Circulation and Public Arenas of Knowledge.

Commentator: Geoffrey Bowker (UCIrvine/CAS)


Coffee break

11.15 – 12.45

Clifford Siskin (NYU): Information, Knowledge, and the Copernican Delay.

Commentator: Vera Keller (Oregon)

12.45 – 13.45


13.45 – 15.15

Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer (Chicago): The Politics of Rationality.

Commentator: Lucian Hölscher (Bochum/CAS)

15.15 – 15.30

Coffee and cake

15.30 – 17.00

Concluding discussion


Dinner for all participants