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Anne Por MSc BA

PhD candidate


Hodegetics: Language of Vice in Student Advice Literature, 1700-1900

Leiden University
Project: Scholarly Vices: A Longue Durée History
Promotor(es): Prof. Herman Paul
Aanstelling: vanaf september 2019

Young scholars are often unsure about how to study effectively, how to conduct research fruitfully, or how to act among colleagues. During the 18th and 19th century, students from German lands seeking such guidance did not need to look far. An academic genre called Hodegetik (Wegweisung, or ‘showing the way’) provided advice on how to live morally sound and avoid falling prey to scholarly vices. Hodegetical courses were popular, and their corresponding textbooks circulated widely, causing many scholars to be familiar with the genre and its contents. In advising students on how to cultivate studious habits and avoid vicious behaviour, authors of hodegetical texts not only revealed how they defined such practices, but also gave insight into their conceptions of the academic being, knowledge and morality. In being directed to young, impressionable students and by appealing to moral and epistemic notions, hodegetical courses and textbooks cultivated scholarly personae and disciplined fields of knowledge. In my research, I analyse how authors of hodegetical textbooks relied on each other’s work in warning their readers against vicious habits, revealing which vices remained in use continuously. I furthermore assess the mechanism of such transmissions by questioning to what extent vices that persisted were associated with commonplaces, anecdotes, or stereotypes. With regard to relatively new theories of mind and novel didactic insights informing scholarly vices, I examine to what extent these ‘novelties’ needed to be part of existing cultural repertoires to be accepted.