The Global Standards of Intellectual and Disciplinary Historiography

Nadia R. Altschul

in Geographies of Philological Knowledge

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780226016214
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226016191 | DOI:
The Global Standards of Intellectual and Disciplinary Historiography

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This chapter outlines that, although disciplinary history posits the beginning of a historically minded interest in the Middle Ages at the so-called Early Modern period, the beginning of a “modern” form of medieval studies is more particularly associated with German developments and allied with its rigorous philological methodology. Historical consciousness is a measuring stick for the achievement of a highly valued modern frame of mind, and a rare and exceptional characteristic of Western civilization. The chapter begins with a critique of the nationalist premises of a European-centered medieval studies through attention to Hispanic American examples such as Andrés Bello and María Rosa Lida. It illustrates in particular how the methodological parameters of nineteenth-century German philology became a global design, exported to the colonies as the proper way of doing medieval studies, and how the notion of philological Romanticism, tied to nationalism, also functions as a global design delimiting the modernity or backwardness of different disciplinary approaches. In the case of early Hispanic American endeavors, the paradox of searching for a nationalist-inflected medieval studies highlights the difficulties of placing non-European medievalist engagements within global European parameters. In terms of Romantic nationalism and German editorial methodology, the accessibility of original medieval manuscripts also acts as a global design determining the backwardness or modernity of Castilian language scholarship. It is necessary to consider hegemonic parameters to understand more fully the discursive strategies that allowed foundational and imperial narratives to thrive in the realm of philological scholarship as a marker of intellectual modernity.

Keywords: historiography; Western civilization; philological scholarship; medieval studies; medieval manuscripts

Chapter.  9310 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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