“New Books in Language: Orientalism, Philology, and the Illegibility of the Modern World”
Interview with Henning Trüper
At the turn of the 19th century, European philologists were engaged in the study of Semitic languages and Indology, breaking with the past in many ways. To understand this period, Henning Trüper argues for the importance of a broad-ranging investigation into the production of scholarly knowledge, focusing especially on Semitic Orientalism, as a way to understand the deep epistemological crisis facing the field.
In Orientalism, Philology, and the Illegibility of the Modern World (Bloomsbury Academic Press 2020), he argues that 19th century philologists, in their efforts to establish the explication of linguistic meanings as scientific, prioritized certain semantic language games over others, in particular referential ones. Exploring the tensions which arise between “philology of the real” (Realphilologie) and “philology of words” (Wortphilologie) Trüper uncovers the patchwork of methods which philologists employed in an attempt to construct a universal science—concluding that these practices have reverberating implications for the humanities even in the twentieth century and beyond.
Audio: © New Books Network