German History Intersections is a source-based digital project that examines three broad topics – migration, knowledge and education, and Germanness – from 1500 to the present. By charting these topics across centuries, the project offers an alternative to traditional histories that focus on discrete historical periods.
I chose this image for its tantalizing interplay of old and new. The foundations of learning in the West are in Greek philosophy, especially in Plato, whose famous Allegory of the Cave depicted learning as an emancipating movement from darkness into light. With the adoption of Braille reading code, blind Germans were able to undertake this movement in their own way, emancipating themselves and preparing themselves for broader forms of work and leisure. The image also unites older methods of academic inquiry, such as the history of reading, with newer methods from recent fields, such as Disability Studies. A particular strength of the history of knowledge as a research field is its dynamic flexibility and its capacity to integrate learning from multiple fields.
Jeff Zalar, University of Cincinnati, member of the “Knowledge and Education” working group