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.Read more...
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.
- ISBN-13: 9780691145648
- ISBN-10: 0691145644
- Publisher: Princeton University Press
- Publish Date: May 2014
- Page Count: 576
- Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.05 pounds
Series: William G. Bowen Memorial Series in Higher Education
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-03-17
- Reviewer: Staff
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 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)