Organizing Enlightenment: Eighteenth-Century Information Overload and the Invention of Disciplinarity


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships


Germanic Literature and Languages


This project recounts how disciplinarity emerged as the last and most lasting tool of the Enlightenment. Framing the Enlightenment as both a philosophical project and a historical set of technologies and practices for managing the proliferation of print, it outlines a shift from an encyclopedic to a disciplinary arrangement of knowledge in late eighteenth-century Germany. This new order of knowledge remained underdetermined, however, until an institutional framework emerged to insure its continuity. This order became disciplinary in the contemporary sense, this project argues, with the founding of the University of Berlin in 1810. The modern university and disciplinarity were mutually constitutive responses to changes in the organization and transmission of knowledge in the Enlightenment.