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Objectives

Projected are:

  

(1) A new edition of Blumenbach’s original works including their translations and reissues.
 
(2) An annotated calendar of Blumenbach’s correspondence.
  
(3) An inventory and reconstruction of Blumenbach’s scientific collections.
  
(4) A documentation of his contemporary and later reception.
  
(5) The hyperlinking of the digital texts and objects.
  
(6) Biographical studies of Blumenbach.
   

The HMS Resolution. Watercolour by midshipman Henry Roberts.
HMS Resolution was the ship in which Captain James Cook made his second and third voyages of exploration in the Pacific.

 

 

(1) A new edition of Blumenbach’s original works including their translations and reissues.

The critical edition of Blumenbach’s works will include commentary and explanatory notes. Moreover, it will recreate an essential research process of the Enlightenment and Romantic period. A key topic of the international scientific dialogue at the time was “man” in his physical, medical, sociopolitical and cultural aspects – which dialogue was conducted via the then common means of communication, such as letters, lectures, reviews, journal articles, and monographs.

 

(2) An annotated calendar of Blumenbach’s correspondence.

About 4500 items of Blumenbach correspondence have been preserved, covering the period 1773-1840. A calendar with brief descriptions of contents is planned, allowing for linkages with published writings and objects of natural history.

    

(3) An inventory and reconstruction of Blumenbach’s scientific collections.

In 1773 Göttingen acquired an “Academisches Museum". Throughout his professional life, the indefatigable collector and correspondent Blumenbach kept adding to its collections. In some of his works, in particular the Handbuch der Naturgeschichte and his Abbildungen naturhistorischer Gegenstände, Blumenbach refers explicitly to individual objects, some of which are type specimens upon which the descriptions of a new species were based. Many of the original objects have been dispersed but are still to be found in various Göttingen collections. We intend to bring these objects together again in a virtual environment and link them to Blumenbach’s writing.

 

(4) A documentation of his contemporary and later reception.

An important part for the bio-bibliographical work will be the history of editions, translations, abbreviated editions and partial republications of Blumenbach’s three key works: De generis humani varietate nativa, Handbuch der Naturgeschichte and Institutiones physiologicae. During the nineteenth century the German republications, the translations and the added commentary often contained major as well as minor distortions of the originals. These modifications will be documented by synoptical presentations. Moreover, they will be contextualised by providing contemporaneous reviews of Blumenbach’s publications.

 

(5) The hyperlinking of the digital texts and objects.

The newly developed tools of the internet will be used in order to achieve the best possible latitude and depth in making these documents available to scholars from around the world.

 

(6) Biographical studies of Blumenbach.

As the editing project develops, contributions will be made to a scientific biography and metabiography of Blumenbach.