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Ann Blair (Harvard University), In the workshop of the mind: collaborative relationships in early modern Europe
May 14 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Today we are well aware of the collaborative nature of intellectual work: the majority of scientific papers are co-authored; in the humanities interdisciplinary initiatives and digital methods of research have all encouraged collaboration. We generally have the sense that collaborative work is a recent development, that in the past scholarship was a solitary activity. Indeed in paintings and descriptions of the early modern period scholars were typically depicted working alone, but the working papers and letters that survive tell a different story. Through these sources we can appreciate how early modern scholars worked collaboratively through correspondence and in person, with peers, with patrons, and with helpers (amanuenses, students, family members). Collaborations worked differently in early modern Europe, and with different conceptions of credit and authority from ours today, but in this talk illustrated from early modern paintings, manuscripts, and printed books I will argue that collaboration just as (and perhaps even more) widespread and essential to scholarship than it is today.