How Information Travels: Lessons from the Early Modern Republic of Letters

Thursday, January 5, 2012: 8:00 PM
Sheraton Ballroom V (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers)
Paula Findlen, Stanford University
How was knowledge made in the early modern world?  This paper explores how the circulation of people, ideas, and things created a culture of information which emerged between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries in a series of distinct stages which also help to define key elements of the nature and function of the early modern republic of letters.  Drawing on recent work emerging from the "Mapping the Republic of Letters" project at Stanford as well as my longstanding fascination with practices of scientific collecting and a current research project on Sicilian contributions to seventeenth-century natural history, this paper will explore the different ways in which information was communicated, debated, refined, and publicized through letters, travel, and books.  How did such practices and conversations tangibly alter what people thought they knew?
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