The philological study of ancient and classical texts, traditionally the very core of the humanities, has during the last generation or so been either completely marginalized within university departments or, at some universities, even altogether banished from the academic portfolio. This development is partly due to general policies of higher education, but one can argue that it is primarily a consequence of trends within the humanities themselves.


While there is ample reason to lament this development, one must also take action to ensure the preservation and flourishing of the rich academic traditions within the different fields of philology. Without these fields, which historically and conceptually lie at the very core of the study of human culture, the very existence of the humanities as a meaningful academic activity is at risk. It should also be emphasised that any effort to sustain and develop studies and research on historical languages today must include all the major literary traditions of the world.

Philologists in all fields should unite to promote philology as a unified discipline on all levels of education and research. This is the purpose of the World Philology Union (WPU).


WORLD PHILOLOGY UNION

The Constitution of the WPU was adopted by the Preliminary Board at the Foundational Meeting in Oslo, Norway, 2 December 2021.

Contact the WPU Administration (e-mail).

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Members of the Preliminary Board

Jens Braarvig (President) – Emeritus Professor, University of Oslo, and Director of the Norwegian Institute of Philology.

Jean-Luc De Paepe – Deputy Secretary General of the International Union of Academies, UAI.

Lutz Edzard – Professor in Arabic and Semitic Linguistics, Erlangen University.

Beatrice Gründler – Professor of Arabic, Freie Universität Berlin.

Thomas Kjeller Johansen – Professor of Philosophy, Oslo University.

Yasunori Kasai – Professor in Classics, Tokyo University.

Samuel Lieu – President of the International Union of Academies, UAI.

Torbjörn Lodén – Emeritus Professor of Chinese language and culture, Stockholm University.

Luisa Migliorati – Professor of Archaeology, Sapienza University of Rome.

Martha T. Roth – Chauncey S. Boucher Distinguished Service Professor of Assyriology in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago.

Velizar Sadovski – Senior Researcher at the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Walther Sallaberger – Professor of Assyriology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.

Shoichi Sato – Emeritus Professor at Nagoya University, Fellow of the Academy of Japan, Vice-President of the International Union of Academies, UAI.

Danuta Shanzer – Professor in Late Antique and Medieval Latin, University of Vienna.

Nicholas Sims-Williams – Emeritus Professor of Iranian and Central Asian Studies, SOAS University of London.


THIS PAGE

The content on this page is a preliminary placeholder for the website of the WPU, which will be developed at a later stage.


FOUNDATIONAL MEETING IN OSLO (1–2 December 2021)

The foundational meeting in Oslo was held on Wednesday the 1st and Thursday the 2nd of December 2021, at the facilities of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Drammensveien 78, Oslo.

WPU

You can find more information about the Academy building here.


PHILOLOGY AS AN AUTONOMOUS DISCIPLINE

The founding members of the WPU recognize that philology is not only a method within other fields. The philological approach is indeed in itself an autonomous discipline – intrinsically comparative and genuinely global and macro-historical.

The WPU will expressly encourage global membership and promote philological research projects involving international collaboration. It will support younger researchers and seek to procure funding for their projects in the form of scholarships. The union will support existing philological programs at universities and help establish new ones. An important task will be to help the traditionally distinct philological traditions explore each other’s insights and perspectives, and encourage research projects that require the participation of more than one philological tradition. The overall goal of the WPU will be to help secure recognition of philology as one of the most central and useful disciplines in the humanities.


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While the later meaning of the word philology is not necessarily directly related to its use by Plato in the Phaedrus, it is not uncommon that also practitioners of philology in the modern meaning incorporate into their craft something of the old meaning, viz. “love of intellectual discourse” (in the Greek context the latter is incidentally more or less synonymous with “predilection for table talk”). To appreciate the whole story, one needs to start from the beginning of the Phaedrus. The passage in question is a part of Socrates' initial refusal to give a speech on friendship (227a–237a). Text with translation and references on Perseus.