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Academic Prize Contests in a Transnational Perspective

Subproject by Dr. Martin Urmann

The project aims at developing a comparative perspective on the rhetorical and philosophical prize questions of a number of learned societies in Europe. To do so, it uses the research conducted on the contests of the French academies as a basic point of reference. The analysis will pay particular attention to the Berlin Academy of Sciences and its philosophical competitions which were established in 1747 and which attracted the interest of scholars throughout the entire republic of letters. The project argues that, during the 18th century, the prize questions undergo a significant change and turn into a medium of the self-reflection of knowledge. As such, they mirror the shifts towards written communication and towards the periodical production of knowledge which emerged in the republic of letters in the 17th century. In order to further investigate this tendency, the project also focuses on the contests of the Holland Society of Sciences in Haarlem. It thus makes a contribution to an entangled history of the academic prize questions in early modern Europe.