World Wide Webs? Networks and Intellectual Communities in the British Empire

AHA Session 224
North American Conference on British Studies 2
Sunday, January 8, 2012: 8:30 AM-10:30 AM
Chicago Ballroom VIII (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers)
Dane K. Kennedy, George Washington University
The Audience

Session Abstract

The purpose of this panel is to explore the nature of knowledge-networks as they operated on local and transnational levels within the context of the British Empire. While the role that intellectual exchange and knowledge formation played in the British imperial enterprise has received close scholarly attention, gaps remain in our understanding of the ways such exchange worked in practice. This panel will therefore present a series of case studies drawn from around the globe that each seek to illuminate a particular knowledge network and its role in shaping intellectual communities across the breadth of the British empire. The papers will be linked by their attempt to chart the different ways that material practices both shaped and were shaped by communities of ideas. For the movement of books and people across both the visible and invisible boundaries of empire helped to create intellectual communities that not only upheld but also undermined imperial rule. By paying attention to the relationship between the routes of material exchange and the ideational worlds they facilitated, this panel will explore some of the ways that networks helped shaped intellectual communities in the age of empire.

This panel will be of interest to historians of the British empire, book historians, intellectual historians, and educational historians.

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