UNC Asheville Emeritus Professor Gordon Wilson Awarded NEH Grant to Produce New Edition of Henry of Ghent Texts

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Gordon A. Wilson, emeritus professor of philosophy at UNC Asheville, and his team have been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant to produce the first critical edition of a section of the major work by medieval theologian and philosopher Henry of Ghent. The editorial team consists of Wilson, Girard Etzkorn, professor emeritus of The Franciscan Institute, St. Bonaventure University, and Bernd Goehring from the Medieval Institute, University of Notre Dame. They are assisted by Linda Nesbit Etzkorn, graduate of Quincy College.

The three-year, $275,000 grant was one of 21 awarded this year by the NEH in its highly competitive Scholarly Editions program. It was the ninth time the NEH provided support for research on Henry of Ghent, and it represents over 19 years of funding by the NEH for the project of editing Henry’s complete works. When the series is completed there will be over 40 volumes: over 20 are now in print and over 10 are in preparation. The ambitious project was started back in the 1970s and there is an international team of scholars from the United States, Canada, Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands who have been working of various volumes. The series is published by Leuven University Press under the auspices of the De Wulf-Mansion Center for Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy of KU Leuven University. Wilson is the current general coordinator of the series.

Wilson and his team will return to the original 13th and 14th century hand-written manuscripts that have survived. These were written in Latin, but to expedite the copying process the medieval scribes developed a kind of Latin shorthand. Wilson and his team must decipher these symbols, analyze and transcribe them, and identify all of the references to earlier authors, such as Aristotle.

“The critical text we establish will be the definitive Latin text which other scholars will use to translate this definitive text into various modern languages,” said Wilson. “These Latin volumes and the translations made from them will be the texts that scholars and students use to study the theories of Henry, who was the most illustrious and influential thinker in the last quarter of the 13th century and whose ideas have been described as ‘remarkably modern.’”

For more information, visit https://philosophy.unca.edu/henry-ghent-series