Art History / Archeology: The project examines copies of famous art historian Winkelmann

Art History / Archeology: The project examines copies of famous art historian Winkelmann
A page of excerpts from Johann Joachim Winkelmann. Photo: Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Manuscript Department, Paris, Sign. Allemand, B.D. 62, B.L. 43 r.

Hall. Mlu. Johann Joachim Winkelmann is considered the founder of scientific art history and archeology in German-speaking countries. In a large research project, scientists at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and TU Darmstadt are now investigating the effects of other scholars on their work. Winkelmann’s basis was specifically the writings of Italian, French, and English scholars, which he copied in excerpts and thus filled in so-called passages. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is financing the project for 3 years with just under 1.1 million euros.

For centuries, fraction was the most common way of “storing” knowledge. Excerpts from other authors’ works were copied, serving as a reminder for what was read, but also as a reservoir for their own works. “The project is intended to serve as a pilot project to research such excerpts,” Germanist Proc. Dr. Dr. Elizabeth DeCulotte, Humboldt Professor and Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Research on European Enlightenment (IZEA) at MLU. While she contributes her expertise in art history and Winkelmann’s works, project partners contribute their experience in the field of digital humanities. Molitor oversees the technical side of the project, while linguist Wrap contributes his expertise in digital text analysis. The digital version is to be made freely available for further research into the open access process.

Before the works can be compared digitally, however, they must be fully indexed. “The excerpt contains about 7,500 pages, most of them from the works of foreign-language writers,” DeCulotte says. Most of these are already digitally available as scans and are now to be recorded in text form and partially translated.

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