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  • Aneignungen des Humanismus: Institutionelle und individuelle Praktiken an der Universität Ingolstadt im 15. Jahrhundert by Maximilian Schuh
  • David Sheffler
Aneignungen des Humanismus: Institutionelle und individuelle Praktiken an der Universität Ingolstadt im 15. Jahrhundert. By Maximilian Schuh. [Education and Society in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Vol. 47.] (Boston: Brill. 2013. Pp. xiv, 286. $140.00. ISBN 978-9-004-23095-8.)

In this careful and nuanced study Maximilian Schuh documents the dissemination and appropriation of humanism within the faculty of arts at the University of Ingolstadt during the last quarter of the fifteenth century. Deliberately eschewing the traditional focus on Conrad Celtis, the so-called German arch-humanist, Schuh instead looks to the individual university teachers and students who appropriated elements of the humanist agenda without fully abandoning established medieval texts and approaches. Thus, Schuh argues, despite the rhetoric of Conrad Celtis and his circle, the most consequential appropriations of humanistic ideas occurred, not within narrow humanist sodalities, but within the framework of the faculty of arts.

Schuh’s approach owes much to the influence of Michel de Certeau, whose conception of appropriation (Aneignung) he clearly references in the title of the work. As Schuh demonstrates through painstaking analysis of surviving manuscripts and library catalogs, the ideals and methods developed within the context of Italian humanists’ circles were not simply transplanted across the Alps unchanged. Rather, individuals appropriated and employed elements of the humanist agenda in ways that reflected the structures, political context, and economics of Ingolstadt, as well as the desires, aesthetics, and traditions of its students and faculty members. In this way, Schuh grounds his history of humanist ideas in the specificities of time and place. Perhaps most important, Schuh shows that the introduction of humanism was not driven by a narrow elite, but reflected the interests of individuals across the university spectrum, including those on the lowest levels of the academic hierarchy.

Schuh divides his study into five chapters of radically disparate lengths. The first chapter surveys the secondary literature and surviving sources. The second chapter describes the curriculum of the University of Ingolstadt, its institutional structures, and the status of poetry and rhetoric within the institution. In this chapter, Schuh demonstrates that formal instruction in rhetoric and poetry remained on the margins of Ingolstadt’s university structure, noting, for example, that the lecturer initially lacked a guaranteed income and even access to the arts faculty library. Schuh argues that by overlooking this marginality, historians have often overemphasized the role played by these first formal lectures in the transmission of humanist ideas at the University of Ingolstadt. The next two chapters, which constitute the heart of the work, lay out the institutional and individual appropriations of humanism at the University of Ingolstadt. Particularly impressive is Schuh’s meticulous examination of surviving manuscripts and library catalogs. From these sources, Schuh extracts substantial evidence of faculty and student engagement with humanist ideas, texts, and approaches, including the use of humanist grammars and a growing interest in classical authors and style. In a particularly innovative section, Schuh examines shifts toward a more classical orthography and the [End Page 164] increasing appropriation of elements of humanist script. Interestingly, Schuh argues that this appropriation was mediated primarily through humanist-inspired printed works, rather than direct contact with Italian humanist manuscripts. The final, perhaps overly brief, chapter sums up the major conclusions of the work.

Taken together, Schuh’s findings represent a major contribution to the history of the University of Ingolstadt and provide new insights into the process by which humanist ideas spread north of the Alps. By shifting the focus from a small number of intellectual elites to the much broader category of ordinary arts students, and by emphasizing adaptation and appropriation rather than wholesale adoption, Schuh provides a context for the curricular reform movements and debates that roiled the intellectual waters of the sixteenth century.

David Sheffler
University of North Florida


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