News: Opening of Vossius Centre and launch of History of the Humanities journal (University of Amsterdam)

29 maart 2016

How are the many academic disciplines connected, and how does knowledge from one discipline reinforce knowledge in another discipline? Due to increasing specialisation and fragmentation we as academics do not know each other’s disciplines any more. And yet the history of science and humanities shows that important innovations and discoveries are found exactly where disciplines interact or co-operate.

After almost 400 years, the first professor at the University of Amsterdam, Gerardus Vossius, has been honored with a Center that aims to bring together researchers from all faculties who share an interest in the history of humanities and sciences. The Vossius Center aims to jointly investigate the position and motivation of knowledge-making disciplines, in past and present, from a post-disciplinary perspective.


Gerardus Vossius (1577-1649) and his son Isaac Vossius (1618-1689) epitomize the Center’s goal to bring together the humanities and the sciences. In 1632, the polymath Gerardus Vossius became the first professor at the newly founded Athenaeum Illustre, the precursor of the current University of Amsterdam. Besides being a historian, he was a literary scholar, grammarian, rhetorician and theologian. In his work on chronology he combined astronomical with historical evidence. His son Isaac Vossius became one of the most famous intellectuals of Europe. A Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Vossius was prolific as a philologist, geographer but also published on tidal motions, on optics, on painting and on the age of the world. He demonstrated that the earth had to be much older than could be derived from the Bible. Father and son Vossius crossed disciplines, mixed methods and engaged with the past to make sense of the present. They reflect the Center’s central theme to arrive at a global, post-disciplinary history of knowledge.


More information

Go to the Vossius Center website


  • Prof.dr. Rens Bod (FGW & FNWI)
  • Prof.dr. Julia Kursell (FGW)
  • Prof.dr. Jeroen van Dongen (FNWI)

Also: New History of Humanities journal launched

History of Humanities, along with the newly formed Society for the History of the Humanities, takes as its subject the history of a wide variety of disciplines including archaeology, art history, historiography, linguistics, literary studies, musicology, philology, and media studies, tracing these fields from their earliest developments, through their formalization into university disciplines, and to the modern day. By exploring the history of humanities across time and civilizations and along with their socio-political and epistemic implications, the journal takes a critical look at the concept of humanities itself.

History of Humanities is published by the University of Chicago Press.