Luca Scholz: "A Distant Reading of Law Dissertations"

Tue May 24th 2022, 12:00 - 1:15pm
Hybrid event: in-person at CESTA and via Zoom

About this talk: Scholars and students at early modern European universities wrote hundreds of thousands of dissertations. One reason why these sources have often been neglected is that they defy any individual’s capacity for close reading. This talk presents a distant reading of the titles of over 20,000 legal dissertations written at German universities during the seventeenth century. Providing a pathway into a forbidding archive, it highlights the dissertations’ interest for the history of jurisprudence and its receptiveness to social change, the history of universities and academic publishing, baroque rhetoric, and cultural, political, and economic history. The talk also discusses a visualization technique used to examine whether shifts in subjects, methods, or language can be attributed to specific age cohorts or whether they were adopted across generations.

About the speaker: I am a scholar of European and digital history who is particularly involved in the relationship of political authority and human mobility, interactions with and perceptions of the atmosphere, and the use of geospatial and computational methods to study the past. I earned a PhD in History at the European University Institute in Florence, an MA in History at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris and the University of Heidelberg, as well as a BA in Economics at the latter university. Before moving to England, I held a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Stanford University from 2016 to 2019. I have also taught at the Free University of Berlin and have been a visiting scholar at the University of Saint Andrews and at Columbia University. You can find more information on my work at