Martin Gierl is co-convenor of the Enlightenment e-reading group at the Institute.
It all started with the Moralische Wochenschriften. There were several hundred of them in the 18th century. They imitated each other: the plot, the narratives, the content – morals – right down to the titles and the weekly publication frequency. Sure, you can exclaim “media format” and be done with it. But I’ve seen that content and form go together. Contemporaries already saw that and called them “moral”-“weeklies.”
I then studied how Evangelical Lutheran theologians quarreled at the end of the 17th century. This was anything but arbitrary bickering! Church law, church orders, controversial theology as the highest level of the university hierarchy, standardized argumentation procedures, the syllogism among the jurists and the theologians, official rules were intertwined: the form had to defend the content – the confessional dogma and thus the confessional identity. In doing so, one managed to remain what one was, and yet to integrate new trends – to check what was acceptable and what was to be excluded as heterodox. Pietism thus gained a theological profile.
Form, content, and context are not separate. When they are in action, they condition and develop each other. Fields, practices, methods, field vocabularies and grammars emerge until there are factually appropriate flows of information. This has fascinated me to this day. You find it everywhere. Today I am working on church history, reading how the Enlightenment did not escape its critique of religion and revelation, how church and state merged and then diverged in the early modern period, how the inner mission of individual faith corresponded with the outer mission of European Christian Weltbeseelung. And I am working on a history of the Göttingen Fachjournale in the 18th century. Specialist journals – Göttingen is only one local example of them – were already there before there were autonomous specialist disciplines. With them, the record of the transition from scholarship to Wissenschaft is available
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Umgemünzte Aufklärung. Die Numismatik im 18. Jahrhundert bis Eckhel, in: Bernhard Woytek, Daniela Williams (eds.), Ars critica numaria. Joseph Eckhel (1737–1798) and the Transformation of Ancient Numismatics, Wien 2022 (forthcoming), 135-181
Negotiating Ideas: The Communicative Constitution of Pietist Theology within the Lutheran Church, in: Joke Spaans, Jetze Touber (eds.), Enlightened Religion. From Confessional Churches to Polite Piety in the Dutch Republic, Leiden 2019, 131-155
Johann Christoph Gatterer and History as Science, in: Keith Michael Baker, Jenna M. Gibbs (eds.), Life Forms in the Thinking of the Long Eighteenth Century, Toronto 2016, 19-43