In a cultural history of polymaths from the Renaissance to the present (from Leonardo da Vinci to Umberto Eco), Peter Burke examines the figure of the polymath and its survival in an age of specialization. At first glance, it may seem counterintuitive to assume that the polymath has managed to overcome the disciplinary borders which have been drawn since the mid-nineteenth century and which structurally manifest themselves in the division of universities into faculties, departments, and institutes. Yet, as Peter Burke will show, the species of the polymath has continued to exist; and it still does today – despite an undeniable decline.
Peter Burke is Professor Emeritus for Cultural History at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Emmanuel College. He is considered one of the most renowned cultural historians worldwide. He has published extensively, most notably on the Italian and European Renaissance as well as on the image-making of Louis XIV. More recently, he has also pursued research interests in media history and the sociology of knowledge.
The talk is followed by a discussion with members of Die Junge Akademie, amongst them Fabian Krämer and Christoph Lundgreen, who critically examine the role of disciplinary borders in their work within their research group ‘Two Cultures of Sciences’.
Fabian Krämer is a historian of science and humanities at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. He joined Die Junge Akademie in 2015 and initiated the research group ‘Two Cultures of Science’.
Christoph Lundgreen is assistant professor at the Institute of History at Technische Universität Dresden. He is currently speaker of Die Junge Akademie and has been a member since 2016.
Die Junge Akademie in collaboration with ICI Berlin and Wagenbach Verlag
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Image Credit © Die Junge Akademie/Peter Himsel