What is Research?

This course explores the history of research, its meaning and its places. Some distinction will be made, as part of the story, between the broad history of human inquiry and the modern practice of research. A key transformative step occurs in the seventeenth and eighteenth century with the flourishing of curiosity. But research, as we know it, only came into its current meaning in the middle of the nineteenth century. Even now, there is no general history of research; some outline of what such a history could look like is part of what we will try to achieve. The course will focus primarily, however, on modern spaces in which research happens: the library, archive, museum, laboratory, studio, stage, expedition, and research institute. We will try and understand the development of these spaces and how they each favor or facilitate different kinds of research. Is the research done by a biologist the same as that done by a historian? Does a painter understand by research something similar to what a choreographer understands by research—or a poet Students will work on particular types of spaces or key figures, or key moments in the history of those research spaces. Work done in the course will, potentially, be included in the exhibition Utopias of Research, scheduled to open in the BGC Gallery in fall 2023.

3 credits.