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OU Researcher Receives NEH Grant to Create Editions of 18th Century German Philosopher's Works

February 8, 2024

OU Researcher Receives NEH Grant to Create Editions of 18th Century German Philosopher's Works

18th-century German polymath Johann Nicolas
18th-century German polymath Johann Nicolas Tetans

Brian A. Chance, a lecturer in the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences’ First Year Experience Program, is part of a collaborative research team that has received a highly competitive award from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The three-year $300,000 NEH Scholarly Editions and Translations grant will support “The Tetens Project.” This project will create a digital critical German edition of the first volume of the eighteenth-century German polymath Johann Nicolas Tetens’ monumental Philosophical Essays on Human Nature and its Development, a print scholarly translation of this work into English, and a digital transcription of a newly discovered manuscript of Tetens’ metaphysical writings. 

“Tetens is one of the most important German intellectuals of the eighteenth century,” Chance said. “In addition to original contributions in mathematics, meteorology, engineering, optics, psychology, and philosophy, his work responds to a broad array of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century figures, touching on debates concerning human nature, natural history, race, psychology, metaphysics, epistemology, religion, experimental science, language, culture, and ethics. These editions will bring that work, some of it for the first time, to a broader audience.”

Chance will collaborate with researchers from Florida State University and LaSalle University and will receive additional support from scholars at universities in Canada, Germany, and Switzerland. The Scholarly Editions and Scholarly Translations program provides grants to organizations to support collaborative teams who are editing, annotating, and translating foundational humanities texts that are vital to scholarship but are currently inaccessible or only available in inadequate editions or translations.