MECANO: MSCA Doctoral Network

Our topic

To consider a text or author canonical is to invest it with prestige, authority or even timeless value. Canons set standards and define what is deemed worthy of transmission, but at the same time they are constantly undergoing change. The distinction between those who belong to the canon and those who do not inevitably operates a dynamics of inclusion and exclusion. It is not clear, however, who—if anyone—is the agent of such operations and what influences the way canons are shaped.

MECANO aims to advance our understanding of the mechanics of canon formation and knowledge transmission of ancient Greek and Latin texts. It will look at (a) how texts, ideas or authors become canonical by being cited, translated, studied, imitated, excerpted, or compiled by later authors, and (b) how such implicit canons have changed across time and space by being received in different cultural, intellectual and linguistic environments. To study the dynamics of canonicity from a longitudinal perspective, we will combine qualitative approaches to intellectual history and reception studies with applications of digital and computational methods on extensive text corpora.

Our goal

Bringing together six universities and an array of academic and non-academic institutions interested in the topic of canonicity (publishers, museums, academies of sciences, national libraries, arts companies), as well as a centre for entrepreneurship and an ICT company, MECANO created a training programme that responds to the need for historically conscious and digitally skilled Humanities PhDs.

MECANO’s twofold goal is to develop a new model for the study of canonicity and to train the PhD researchers to become versatile intellectuals ready to tackle the challenges of modern engagement with the topics of canonicity, diversity, and cultural heritage.

Our values

In studying the mechanics of canon formation across times, languages and cultures, MECANO is inevitably concerned with the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion implied in knowledge transmission, which may in turn reflect broader societal or cultural tensions. Through our training and research programme, we aim to foster awareness of these dynamics and contribute to contemporary societal debates about inclusive education, cultural identity and diversity. We believe that in order to tackle such questions we also need to rise to the challenges of open debate and critical discussion ourselves, by creating a space where researchers from different academic and cultural backgrounds can meet, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, gender or religion. As political, societal and military developments around the globe may be an increasing source of concern, we hope that our engagement with the challenges of this project will contribute to fostering mutual understanding, peace and the respect for human rights.