ANNIVERSARY CONFERENCE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF TARTU
Early Modern University Idea and the University of Tartu
4 October 2007
at the University of Tartu History Museum
(in the cathedral building on the Toome Hill)
New structure of knowledge. Theology, jurisprudence, science.
The internal dynamics of the leading ideological disciplines in the 17th century
Wilhelm Schmidt-Biggemann, Professor, Freie Universität Berlin
Bookishly taciturn? Orality, literacy and book culture at Tartu
Jānis Krēsliņ¨, National Library of Sweden
Natural law in 17th-century Tartu University
Pärtel Piirimäe, University of Tartu
The position of the University of Tartu in the 17th-century society
Aleksander Loit, Professor Emeritus of Stockholm University
The question of a protestant university in Imperial Russia
Guido Hausmann, Trinity College Dublin
Letters in the Austrian National Library as source for the history
of the University of Tartu
Hubert Szemethy, Vienna
Conclusions, closing of the conference
With a history that spans nearly a millennium, universities are among the most stable and enduring institutions in Europe. The early modern universities of Europe were characterised by the rise of humanism and the revolutionary ideas that it planted. The higher education landscape of that time was riven by denominational and territorial conflicts, warfare and persecutions.
In the days of papal hegemony, the scholastic method of teaching was employed universally and both scholars and students moved freely. By and by, exploratory travel came to overturn existing perceptions of the world. Intellectuals trained in the humanist tradition developed a different understanding of space, time and themselves. The present was no longer seen as the end of history and the past became accessible to human criticism as an interactional space inhabited by humans.
The Reformation resulted in a wave of Protestant universities being founded and gave rise to religious censorship. The introduction of the experimental method in science, however, inevitably led to a gradual loosening of the grip of the clergy over the university. Regardless of the territorial and denominational fragmentation, the Europe-wide community of scholars and scientists remained intact.
The universities started to adopt new forms of academic interaction and communication. Preference was given to dialogue, which allowed the author of an idea that was in conflict with Christian dogmas to argue for it without identifying himself with it. The second half of the 17th century saw the publication of the first scientific journals.
The scientific revolution (from Copernicus to Newton) was followed by an industrial one. The discoveries, many of which were still made outside the universities, had an impact on the legal and political thought of the day and contributed to the body of medical learning. The universities set about educating the social elites, thus boosting the self-esteem of the professors.
It was in this historical context that the University of Tartu was created 375 years ago. Was it a typical child of that time? What were the factors and circumstances that swayed the rulers trying to decide in favour of or against the founding of one or another university? Were the universities born in that age more eager to oppose or to cooperate with the rulers? How did the development of scientific thought affect teaching at universities? Which social classes were represented among the students and professors of early modern universities?
These are the questions that will be examined in the conference titled "Early Modern University Idea and the University of Tartu" dedicated to the 375th anniversary of the University of Tartu.Conference Secretariat:
University of Tartu History Museum
25 Lossi St, 51003
University of Tartu
Phone: +372 7375 672; +372 7 375 675 Fax: +372 7375 679
e-mail: lea.leppik [ät] ut.ee; reet.magi [ät] ut.ee