Understanding the History of the Humanities from a Bibliometric Perspective: Expansion, Conjunctures, and Traditions in the Last Decades of Venetian Historiography (1950–2013)

Abstract

Historiography is undergoing incessant expansion in the number of publications and active scholars, as is the case with the humanities and sciences in general. Little is known about what effects this has on the research activity and ways of publishing of historians, often stemming from long-established practices. Yet it seems recurrent that during and after periods of sustained growth, several historians lament the increasingly specialized and narrow focus of their domain. This article considers three journals that specialize in the history of Venice but that represent different scholarly traditions. These are analyzed over the most recent decades of modern historiography (1950–2013). Special attention is given to the use of evidence, as mapped by citations to primary sources. It is shown that at least three trends overlap: the sustained expansion in the number of publications and active scholars; the persisting editorial traditions of individual journals; and the conjunctures of the field, either via geographical and intellectual exchanges or by methodological turns. Ultimately, expansion, conjunctures, and traditions all need to be considered to picture the dynamics of a scholarly community over the long term.

Publication
History of Humanities