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Two Cultures into One?

  • Wim Blockmans (a1)


Over the last few decades, two developments have brought fundamental changes to the study of the humanities. The digital revolution triggered the construction of huge databases, universally accessible and searchable on an unprecedented scale. As a consequence, new ways of thinking in wider contexts and organizing research on a larger scale came within reach of disciplines that had previously mostly been active on an individual level and focusing on particular phenomena. Moreover, applications of new scientific methods led to breakthroughs in fundamental humanities issues such as environmental and biological data that were essential for living conditions and for the formation of collective identities. The increased collaboration between disciplines led to major innovations.



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1. Block, G. D. (2016) Priceless: The Value Proposition for the Humanities (Haarlem: Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen), pp. 1214.
2. Nussbaum, M. C. (2010) Not for Profit. Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press), pp. 97112.
3. Snow, C.P. (1959) The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution (London: Cambridge University Press) and his novel: C.P. Snow (1951) The Masters (London: Macmillan).
4. Koenig, T. (2016) The European Research Council (Cambridge: Polity).
5.See for example the Leiden-based Lorentz Center, inviting collaborative projects including humanities, social and natural sciences:
6. Schmidt, S. W., Landé, C. and Guasti, L. (Eds) (1977) Friends, Followers and Factions (Berkeley: University of California Press).
7. Lijphart, A. (1977) Democracy in Plural Societies: A Comparative Exploration (New Haven: Yale University Press).
8. Brinton, C. (1965 [1938]) The Anatomy of Revolution (New York: Vintage Books); B. Moore (1966) Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (Boston: Beacon Press); T. Skocpol (1979) States and Social Revolutions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press); T. Gurr (1970) Why Men Rebel (Princeton: Princeton University Press); C. Tilly (1993) European Revolutions, 1492-1992 (Oxford: Blackwell).
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10.A model is Broodbank, C. (2013) The Making of the Middle Sea: A History of the Mediterranean from the Beginning to the Emergence of the Classical World (London: Thames & Hudson).
11. Barry, A. and Born, G. (Eds) (2013) Interdisciplinarity: Reconfigurations of the Social and Natural Sciences (London and New York: Routledge).
12. Rutgers, L. V. (2000) The Jews in Late Ancient Rome. Evidence of Cultural Interaction in the Roman Diaspora (Leiden: Brill).
13. Slavin, Ph. (2012) The great bovine pestilence and its economic and environmental consequences in England and Wales, 1318-1350. Economic History Review, 65, pp. 12391266.
14. Bramanti, B., Stenseth, N. C., Walløe, L. and Lei, Xu (2016) Plague: A disease which changed the path of human civilization. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 918, pp. 126 ; other leading contributors are Yujun Cui and Stephanie Haensch. The programme is supported by the panel ‘The Human Past’, belonging to the Humanities and Social Sciences section of the ERC.
15. Campbell, B. M. S. (2016) The Great Transition. Climate, Disease and Society in the Late-Medieval World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).


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