Alexander von Humboldt’s famous ‘Kosmos-Lecture’ at the Berlin Sing-Akademie (1827/28): From Digital to Print Edition

A blog post by Christian Thomas (CLARIN-D, BBAW)

Book: Alexander von Humboldt, Henriette Kohlrausch: Die Kosmos-Vorlesung an der Berliner Sing-Akademie. Edited by Christian Kassung and Christian Thomas. Berlin: Insel Verlag, 2019.
(insel taschenbuch 4719, ISBN 978-3-458-36419-1) Publisher’s landing page:

Fig.1: Cover insel taschenbuch 4719, © Insel Verlag Berlin.


Background: Alexander von Humboldt’s legendary ‘Kosmos-Lectures’

Alexander von Humboldt’s legendary ‘Kosmos-Lectures’ in 1827/28 at the Berlin Sing-Akademie – then the city’s largest lecture hall, today’s seat of the Maxim Gorki Theater – are regarded as a decisive moment in the history of scientific popularization. In the winter of 1827/28, approximately one thousand Berliners and guests from abroad attended the 16 consecutive lectures. Humboldt gave a vast overview on the state of scientific knowledge of his time, spanning astronomic, geographic, geological and biological topics, but also the cultural and social spheres in an encompassing ‘portrait of nature’ (“Naturgemälde”). The audience represented a broad spectrum of the learned society and interested laymen including – following Humboldt’s explicit invitation – women, who were still excluded from Prussia’s universities until the end of the 19th century. Since the lectures were never published by Humboldt himself, the elaborate notebooks several of his auditors kept that were preserved in different archival and private holdings in Germany, Poland, Turkey and Norway, become even more valuable as authentic documents of this important moment in the history of science.

The recently published volume Die Kosmos-Vorlesung an der Berliner Sing-Akademie, edited by Christian Kassung and Christian Thomas, presents, for the first time in a printed edition, the reliable and complete text of this lecture series. The edited primary text was corrected on the basis of

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Successful closing event of the CLARIN-D Working Groups: Time to say goodbye - or is it?

The closing event of the CLARIN-D working groups (WGs) took place on November 14th, 2019, in the “Neue Aula” of the University of Tübingen. More than 20 participants came together in the representative rooms of the university in order to have a final discussion about the WGs’ long-lasting participation in CLARIN-D: Since the start of the project, CLARIN-D has cooperated closely with researchers from various disciplines, and for that reason it has always been of great importance for the project to include the input from the working groups. They have served as initiators in the communities and have, for instance, drawn up curation projects. Among the guests of the closing event, one could find the leaders of the WGs, their staff as well as former members, the representative of the funding organisation, Dr. Maria Böhme (DLR), and the leaders of the CLARIN-D centres. The event was looking both ways, offering a retrospective on the work of the WGs with the possibility of future collaborations in other contexts: The WGs’ work is highly relevant as well as community driven and the needs of the users are growing steadily, so that they will in all likelihood be continued elsewhere and with a new label. 

After Thorsten Trippel (WG 6, Tübingen) had welcomed the participants, members of the WGs offered their perspective on the past and the future of the WGs in four different talks: Cathleen Kantner, leader of WG 7 (Social Science), spoke about the characteristics of infrastructures in general and, in the following, about the establishment of research infrastructures in the digital humanities in the context of highly innovative research projects. She emphasized that such developments included current research

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