KNOW: A Journal on the Formation of Knowledge is a new journal published by the Institute on the Formation of Knowledge. Volume One, Issue 1 was released in Spring 2017.

The journal’s missive is to investigate the construction, transmission, and contestation of forms of knowledge from antiquity to today, across disciplinary boundaries and common constellations of facts. What people, institutions and cultures know and how they claim to know it are ever more important questions in the time of the internet, social media, and so-called fake news, but these topics have always been significant.  In the sciences, they drive the formation of the very questions that lead to future progress; in humanistic endeavors, they are implicated in self-formation and cultural norms.

We hope that KNOW will have an impact on the academic and public communities.  In the former case, the articles we accept will (a) aim to challenge the assumption that the modern disciplines constitute a natural division of forms of knowledge and (b) will emphasize the contextual, historical, political and social determination of all forms of knowledge.  In fact this multi-pronged investigation will include pre-disciplinary formations of knowledge, delineating a field of study that cries out for critical and comparative attention but has been overlooked in the attention paid to inter-disciplinarity in the past several decades—an attention that already implies the existence of disciplines in its very attempt to explore the interstices between them.  By contrast, our focus on pre-disciplinarity and on intellectual evolution and context rather than disciplinary boundaries addresses the way that historical forms of “knowledge” were organized into fields that today elude disciplinary recognition as such.  As Michel Foucault long ago asserted of all epistemologies, “we must show that they do not come about of themselves, but are always the result of a construction the rules of which must be known, and the justifications of which must be scrutinized” (The Archaeology of Knowledge).

Outside the specific space of the university, we hope that contributions to KNOW will seek to uncover and explicate the vast legacy of historical forms of thinking and their influence on modern societies.  The journal aims to remind us that our state of present knowledge, with its particular focuses, biases, fields, and even its faith in science as a putatively value-neutral form of knowing, is the direct product of these historical developments.  Awareness of this feature, which is rarely studied or acknowledged, can add nuance to our acceptance of our cultural and intellectual status quo, and to our ability to contextualize both ourselves and others within a longer view.

Contributions to KNOW are accepted through the University of Chicago Press’s Editorial Manager portal.


KNOW Journal
The Institute on the Formation of Knowledge
University of Chicago
5737 S University Ave
Chicago, IL 60637

The first issue of KNOW, released in Spring 2017.