Managing Scholarly Information Before the Modern Age (seminar)
This was a spring 2011 faculty weekend seminar.
The focus of this weekend seminar was on the materials and practices involved in reading and/or writing in the early modern period (roughly 1400-1700). Twelve-to-sixteen participants focused on the process of intellectual work, from reading and note-taking to the composition and revision of texts, published or not. In each case participants examined what can be garnered from the evidence, including marginal annotations in printed books, surviving manuscripts, and finished texts. Paying attention to the materials, spaces, and people involved throughout the cycle of intellectual work, participants considered the following questions: Where did readers and authors read, take notes, or compose? What materials did they use for writing (including ink, quills, paper in various forms)? How did they organize their notes and preparatory materials? Did they work alone or rely on the help of others (friends, family members, or servants)? How did they use and cite their sources? Faculty with advanced research projects that usefully illuminate these topics were encouraged to apply; they had the opportunity to discuss their projects within the seminar’s intellectual framework. One session was scheduled in The Werner Gundersheimer Conservation Laboratory for close examination of selected cases and discussion with the professional staff.
Director: Ann Blair is Henry Charles Lea Professor of History at Harvard University where she teaches courses in the history of the book, early modern intellectual and cultural history, and French history. Her publications include The Theater of Nature: Jean Bodin and Renaissance Science (1997) and Too Much To Know: Managing Scholarly Information Before the Modern Age (2010).