The Vossius Center opens its doors at the UvA

The Vossius Center for the History of Humanities and Sciences

24 March 2016

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.

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 cooperate. The Vossius Center aims to jointly investigate the position and motivation of knowledge-making disciplines, in past and present, from a post-disciplinary perspective.

Directors 

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

On the name "Vossius Center"

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.