Theatrum-literature of the Early Modern Period – World and Knowledge on Stage

The aim of this cooperation project the University of Kassel (Institute for German Studies) and the Herzog August Bibliothek is the digitization and analysis of so-called Theatrum-literature, which forms a core segment of the encyclopaedic and polyhistoric complitaory literature of Central and Western Europe in the Early Modern Period. Between 1500 and 1800 hundreds of Latin and vernacular titles using the concepts Theatrum (theatre), the Schauplatz (scene) and the Schaubühne (stage) were published, employing the spatial title metaphor for the construction, disposition and communication of knowledge. In an exemplary way the project’s cooperation between the library and a university also opens up a research area, in which sources, their cataloging and the results of research on them are integrated hypertextually and new conditions are created to give access to materials and research results from hitherto disparate locations.

Within the projected indexing of the theatrical literature in the Early Modern Period processes and modes of the organization and disposition of knowledge will be analyzed. Such aspects as the accumulation, systematization, selection, transfer and visualization of knowledge as well as the historical constitution of a still incomplete concept of knowledge are of central importance.

The project is being carried out by an interdisciplinary research group of Germanists and historians together with the HAB and the university of Kassel.

The main purpose of the project is the establishment of a Theatrum-portal, which includes the following elements:

  • a bibliographic documentation of all verifiable Theatrum works
  • the provision of a corpus of sources and a finding aid for about 200 representative Theatrum works of relevance for the history of knowledge and science
  • a research portal (among other things for the publication of contributions to colloquia)
  • a hypertext generated by links to digitized primary texts and research results.


Funded by: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation)
Contact: Prof. Dr. Nikola Roßbach (University of Kassel)
Contact: Dr. Thomas Stäcker (HAB)