What I’ve Been Reading

Anthony Grafton’s The Footnote: A Curious History (1997). Here’s my favorite passage so far (62-63):

Around the turn of the century, many American universities began to make themselves over, following what they saw as the German model. Professors, many of whom had enjoyed the adventure of studying in scholarly Göttingen, romantic Heidelberg, or metropolitan Berlin, began to enroll graduate students and offer specialized seminars at home. They carved out new spaces for these advanced courses–often within the impressively crenelated university libraries of the time, in rooms equipped with reference books and primary sources. Students from Berkeley to Baltimore could learn dead languages, master bibliographies, and apply sophisticated research techniques, just as their teachers had. And they could do so without having to live in Germany, drink beer, and translate texts, extemporaneously, into as well as out of Gothic and Anglo-Saxon, as German professors required the members of seminars to do.

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