Blackwell’s rag-bag, or the (in)fertility of hybrid texts. Intertextual patterns and methodological shifts in an 1847 re-re-re-re-edition of the Prose Edda
Mediating machines: a proposal for a big picture of the history of science
  • Noortje Jacobs

    And also thanks from me, Hans!

  • Léjon

    Thank you for reporting Hans!

    At the conference in Rolduc some of you mentioned they wanted to read more about the ‘scholarly/scientific persona’ and the ‘scientific self’. Allow me to humbly recommend the following titles (instead of trying to write about it myself):

    -Lorraine Daston and Otto Sibum, ‘Introduction: Scientific Personae and Their Histories’, Science in Context 16 (2003) 1-8.

    -Gadi Algazi, ‘At the Study: Notes on the Production of the Scholarly Self’, in: David Warren Sabean and Malina Stefanovska (eds.), Space and Self in Early Modern European Cultures (Toronto 2012) 17-50.

    -Gadi Algazi, ‘Food for Thought. Hieronymus Wolf Grapples with the Scholarly Habitus’, in: Rudolf Dekker (ed.), Egodocuments and History: Autobiographical Writing in its Social Context since the Middle Ages (Hilversum 2002) 21-43.

    -Paul H.J., ‘What Is a Scholarly Persona? Ten Theses on Virtues, Skills, and Desires’, History and Theory 53 (2014) 348-371.

    During the last KNHG-conference in The Hague (2014), concepts of personae were also discussed. See this page on to read back the keynotes. Gadi Algazi, Herman Paul and Mineke Bosch have all spoken about personae.

    Of course, we of the Scholarly Self project are always eager to talk about these issues!

    • Thanks for these titles Léon! Obviously, I haven’t had time to look at them all yet (and I can’t seem to find fulltexts of the keynotes of the KNHG conferenc on the site, though I have found some reports), but this really helps.

      I like Herman Paul’s identification of scholarly personae with “embodied constellations of commitments” (his 7th thesis in the History and theory article), committed to a specific constellation of goods rather than alternative constellations that would constitute “being a [scholar]”. Do you (of-the-Scholarly-Self-project ;-)) follow him in this? Can you say something about how ‘real’ these personae are? They are presented as ideal types, and as such they seem to be our constructions; but they also model ‘selfhood’ (thesis 3), which seems to imply that they are also models with causal explanatory significance.

      When we talk about models that we ourselves model our actions (and virtues/skills) by (which seems to be one aim of Paul’s article: the notion of scholarly personae, in the end, serves reflections on our own scholarly selfhood) this distinction may be less relevant than when we are studying scholarly personae in the past (which is what your project is doing, right?): the question may become relevant whether we are constructing these personae as useful fictions in order to make sense of what past historians did/thought they were doing/presented themselves as doing, or whether we are discovering these personae — i.e., identifying really existing forces that shaped scholarly selves.

      At least I think that such a distinction matters, also with regard to the kinds of evidence you would need. If this makes sense: what do you think about this? (I.e. what is the explanatory status/significance of personae?)

      • Léjon Saarloos

        Thank you Jeroen, for this question. It is quite hard to answer, but it gets me thinking. Let me try (or die trying), at least.

        First of all, there are of course many ways and levels in which the concept of persona can function. Herman’s conceptualization of personae, if I have paid any attention, is formulated in such a way that they can function both in empirical, historical study, and in debates over our own conduct as scholars. I wouldn’t dare to venture into discussions about research ethics and historical theory (yet), but I hope I can say something about how ‘real’ personae are in my own research.

        When you ask whether I am constructing personae as useful fictions or discovering them as true entities, I think I do the latter. Of course it also depends on the definition of persona, which I, at least for now, take simply as a collective, cultural model of scholarly selfhood, of which many can exist at the same time.

        I think personae, taken as ideal-types, or preferably as cultural models for being a scholar, are very ‘real’, in the sense that they play a significant role in the shaping of scholarly selves; they have to be appropriated by individuals, but this does not mean that they do not exist in their own right, as models for living a scholarly life. To quote Daston and Sibum:

        To understand personae in this sense is to reject a social ontology that treats only flesh-and-blood individuals as real, and dismisses all collective entities as mere aggregates, parasitic upon individuals. Personae are as real or more real than biological individuals, in that they create the possibilities of being in the human world, schooling the mind, body,and soul in distinctive and indelible ways. (3-4)

        So I would disagree with you when you state that ideal-types are necessarily constructions of our own, or useful fictions for making sense of the sources. The concept of persona itself is of course of ‘our’ making, but these models did really exist, I think, and had to be appropriated by individuals in order to be recognized as being part of a social group.

        My nineteenth-century sources (and not just the obituaries) are riddled with allusions to the exemplary virtues of person x, a life (rather than a method) that should be emulated, and on numerous occasions scholars identify their colleagues as certain ‘types’ of scholars/scientists, characterized by very specific constellations of desires and virtues (f.e. the collector, or the discover, or the applied scientist). Moreover, when engaged in boundary-work or controversy, these models of scholarly selfhood are often the target of criticism, rather than the specific merits of one’s books or methodology.

        Perhaps a wonderful example of how I think personae operate and how ‘real’ they are is offered by Gadi Algazi in the article that Chao already mentioned above. Kepler, when confronted with all kinds of misery because of him being a ‘stargazer’ (a specific type that was often ridiculed), choose to identify himself with an older model of scholarly selfhood, that of the humanist of broad learning.

        Does this make sense at all?

    • Chao Kang Tai

      I was at the KNHG-conference and it was really nice. The talk by Gadi Algazi drew heavily on his research of Johannes Kepler: Gadi Algazi, “Johannes Kepler’s Apologie: Wissensproduktion, Selbst-darstellung und die Geschlechterordnung,” in Wissen, maßgeschneidert: Experten und Experten­kulturen im Europa der Vormoderne, ed. Björn Reich, Frank Rexroth & Matthias Roick (Munich: Oldenbourg, 2012): 215–249.

      For my own work, the following two works have been the most influential: Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, Objectivity (New York: Zone Books, 2007); Peter Galison, “Image of Self,” in Things that Talk: Object Lessons from Art and Science, ed. Lorraine Daston (New York: Zone Books, 2004); although they are obviously only the tip of the proverbial ice berg.

      • Chao Kang Tai

        Most influential in forming my ideas about the relation between epistemic virtues and the (scientific) self that is.

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