Monuments and Documents: Panofsky on the Object of Study in the Humanities

John Guillory at the website of the University of Chicago Press:

In this essay, I argue for a reorientation of discourse about the humanities to the objects of humanistic study rather than claims for their value or effect. Returning to an essay Erwin Panofsky published in 1940, “The History of Art as a Humanistic Discipline,” I build on Panofsky’s rich distinction between “monuments” and “documents” as the two sides of the humanistic object of study. By “monuments,” Panofsky refers to all of those human artifacts, actions, or ideas that have urgent meaning for us in the present. By “document,” he refers to all of those traces or records by means of which we recover monuments. Monuments and documents bring the long time of human existence, past or future, into relation to the short time of human life, a relation that defines the objects of study in all the humanities and confirms the undeniable interest of that study.

More here.