Archival afterlives: life, death, and knowledge-making in early modern British scientific and medical archives

Keller, Vera and Roos, Anna Marie and Yale, Elizabeth (2018) Archival afterlives: life, death, and knowledge-making in early modern British scientific and medical archives. Scientific and Learned Cultures and Their Institutions . Brill, Leiden. ISBN UNSPECIFIED

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Abstract

This conference edition explores the posthumous fortunes of scientific and medical archives in early modern Britain. If early modern natural philosophers claimed all knowledge as their province, theirs was a paper empire. In a series of essays, this book explores how did these (often) disorderly collections of paper come to be 'the archives of the Scientific Revolution.'

Inspired by calls for the wholesale reform of natural philosophy and schooled in humanist note-taking practices, early naturalists generated correspondence, reading notes, experimental and observational reports, and drafts of treatises intended for circulation in manuscript or further replication in print. In our own day, naturalists’ materials, in archives, libraries, and (occasionally) private hands, are now the foundation of a history of science that has taken a material turn towards paper, ink, pen, and filing systems as technologies of communication, information management, and knowledge production. But the posthumous fates of archives, though key to understanding their survival as historical sources and their past uses as scientific sources, have been less often explored.

This work analyses how did (often) disorderly collections of paper come to be 'the archives of the Scientific Revolution'? To what extent did the histories unearthed serve as an index of the cultural position of scientific activity since the early modern period? Exploring the posthumous scientific and medical archive also lets us consider the genealogies of scientific influence, and the creation and management of scientific genius as a posthumous project. Scientific activity, then, as now, is a collective endeavour in which scribes, archives and library keepers, editors, digital humanists and naturalists’ surviving friends and family members had a stake.

Keywords:archives, early modern, history of science, history of medicine, Bmjtype
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V142 Modern History 1600-1699
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V380 History of Science
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (Heritage)
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ID Code:20052
Deposited On:20 Jan 2016 15:11

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