The history of the university
in Humboldt and the modern German university

This chapter first presents a framework drawn from intellectual history and the history of knowledge which may provide university history with relevant themes and methods. Based on German evidence, Matthias Asche and Stefan Gerber argue that university history as a genre has flourished in periods of academic crisis and rapid change. During the decades around the year 1800, the university and its understanding of itself was rocked to its foundations, and this seems to have given rise to a need for examining the historical development of the institution. The chapter then explores the history of the Humboldtian tradition during the modern era: how it has been interpreted and transformed, and how it has provided direction to the debate on the idea of the university. It further provides an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book.

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