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To speik off science, craft or sapience: Knowledge and Temporality in Medieval and Renaissance Scotland

Sep 03, 2015 - Sep 04, 2015

Workshop organised by project B01 “Artefacts, Treasures and Ruins – Materiality and Historicity in the Literature of the English Middle Ages” (Prof. Andrew James Johnston, Dr. Regine Scheibe)


With respect to knowledge, pre-modern European cultures have conventionally been regarded as relatively resistant to change. According to the received historical narratives, the late antique, medieval and early modern periods were largely concerned with the preservation of knowledge. And indeed, many of the genres flourishing at these times, from late classical and medieval commentaries and florilegia to the great humanist encyclopedic efforts, seem to value stability over novelty. Yet even these so-called ‘traditional’ cultures are subject to constant processes of knowledge change, processes which may involve the differentiation of already existing knowledge or the tacit integration of novel items. Since these phenomena often occur over extended periods of time, the traditional toolkit of the History of Knowledge with its focus on indicators of ‘progress’ within narratives of rupture or revolution has proved insufficient to describe them.

Knowledge, and specifically the temporal dimensions of knowledge, seem to have played a special role in Older Scots literature as a means of engaging with, as well as distancing itself from, contemporary English literature. Late medieval Scottish discourses are characterized by a consciousness of historical distinction that pervades different fields of knowledge, such as science, philosophy and historiography. The present conference focuses on late medieval Scottish perceptions of knowledge and its relation to concepts of time, history and historicity, and the aesthetic and performative strategies to fix knowledge, to pass it on, and to edit it didactically.

Time & Location

Sep 03, 2015 - Sep 04, 2015

SFB-Villa, Schwendenerstraße 8, Sitzungsraum, 14195 Berlin-Dahlem