Thomas, Christian (2019). You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory – The Multiple Versions of Alexander von Humboldt’s “Kosmos-Lectures”. In: Versioning Cultural Objects : Digital Approaches, pp. 77-99. Norderstedt: BoD. ISBN 978-3-7504-2702-0

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I present a collection of primary sources related to Alexander von Humboldt’s worldfamous “Kosmos-Lectures.” These lectures, held in Berlin in 1827/28, mark a milestone in the history of sciences and their popularization. Given their indisputable significance, surprisingly little research has been conducted on the lectures. One reason for this was, until recently, the lack of primary sources available. With the online-publication of all currently known lecture notes by attendees of the “Kosmos-Lectures” and the digitisation of Humboldt’s legacy collection, this situation has changed significantly: While before we had too few, it now seems as if we had too many witnesses—or versions—of Humboldt’s lectures. I argue that each document represents one distinct, equally valid version of the “Kosmos-Lectures” that has to be presented and appreciated in its own right. Even if we had the most intimate sources at hand, it would still be impossible to reconstruct an event like a public oral lecture. We remain struck with a multitude of witnesses, i.e. versions at hand. I believe that the implications derived from this exemplary corpus are transferrable to many other, similar instances in which we necessarily are dealing with various, but always “indirect” historical transmissions.

Item Type: Book Section, Proceedings Item or annotation in a legal commentary
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
EditorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Corporate Creators: Institut für Dokumentologie und Editorik
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-106501
Title of Book: Versioning Cultural Objects : Digital Approaches
Series Name at the University of Cologne: Schriften des Instituts für Dokumentologie und Editorik
Volume: 13
Page Range: pp. 77-99
Date: 2019
Publisher: BoD
Place of Publication: Norderstedt
ISSN: 2197-6945
ISBN: 978-3-7504-2702-0
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Zentrale Forschungseinrichtungen > Cologne Center for eHumanities (CCeH)
Subjects: Generalities, Science
Data processing Computer science
Library and information sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Digital HumanitiesEnglish
Digitale EditionenGerman
Related URLs:
Refereed: Yes


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