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Organizing Enlightenment

Information Overload and the Invention of the Modern Research University

Chad Wellmon

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The Enlightenment-era concerns that gave rise to the modern research university can illuminate contemporary debates about knowledge in the digital age.

Since its inception, the research university has been the central institution of knowledge in the West. Today its intellectual authority is being challenged on many fronts, above all by radical technological change. Organizing Enlightenment tells the story of how the university emerged in the early nineteenth century at a similarly fraught moment of cultural anxiety about revolutionary technologies and their disruptive effects on established…

The Enlightenment-era concerns that gave rise to the modern research university can illuminate contemporary debates about knowledge in the digital age.

Since its inception, the research university has been the central institution of knowledge in the West. Today its intellectual authority is being challenged on many fronts, above all by radical technological change. Organizing Enlightenment tells the story of how the university emerged in the early nineteenth century at a similarly fraught moment of cultural anxiety about revolutionary technologies and their disruptive effects on established institutions of knowledge.

Drawing on the histories of science, the university, and print, as well as media theory and philosophy, Chad Wellmon explains how the research university and the ethic of disciplinarity it created emerged as the final and most lasting technology of the Enlightenment. Organizing Enlightenment reveals higher education’s story as one not only of the production of knowledge but also of the formation of a particular type of person: the disciplinary self. In order to survive, the university would have to institutionalize a new order of knowledge, one that was self-organizing, internally coherent, and embodied in the very character of the modern, critical scholar.

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Organizing Enlightenment

Chad Wellmon

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Reviews

Reviews

An important story, told by Wellmon... His exposition is deeply grounded in intellectual, rather than social, history.

Organizing Enlightenment is an intriguing book for readers with significant prior knowledge of educational and German history...this reviewer found the material on lexica and encyclopedias a fascinating new perspective.

The original analysis of select texts and the general élan with which the book is written nevertheless render Organizing Enlightenment an invaluable item for anyone reflecting on the current sense of crisis in academia. Tracing the invention of an idea of the research university rather than the genesis of the institution itself, this book is a welcome contribution to controversies over information overload and the control of knowledge.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6.125
x
9.25
Pages
368
ISBN
9781421419886
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Science as Culture
2. The Fractured Empire of Erudition
3. Encyclopedia from Book to Practice
4. From Bibliography to Ethics
5. Kant's Critical Technology
6. The Enlightenment

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Science as Culture
2. The Fractured Empire of Erudition
3. Encyclopedia from Book to Practice
4. From Bibliography to Ethics
5. Kant's Critical Technology
6. The Enlightenment University and Too Many Books
7. The University in the Age of Print
8. Berlin, Humboldt, and the Research University
9. The Disciplinary Self and the Virtues of the Philologist
Afterword
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
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Chad Wellmon

Chad Wellmon is an associate professor of German studies at the University of Virginia and a faculty fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. He is the author of Becoming Human: Romantic Anthropology and the Embodiment of Freedom.
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