Abstracts 25 June 2016

Liam Chambers (Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, Ireland)

‘Abroad Colleges’, Print Culture and Book Collections: The Case of the Irish Colleges, Paris, 1676-1794

From the mid-sixteenth century, Catholics from Protestant jurisdictions established higher-level colleges for the education and formation of students in more hospitable Catholic territories abroad. The Irish, English and Scots colleges founded in France, Flanders, the Iberian peninsula, Rome and the Holy Roman Empire are the best known, but the phenomenon extended to Dutch and Scandinavian foundations in southern Flanders, the German lands and Poland, as well as to colleges founded in Rome and other Italian cities for for a wide range of foreign communities. Historians have long recognised the importance of these ‘abroad colleges’ for cultural exchange, especially through print entreprises. The English Colleges established in Douai and St Omer, for example, quickly engaged with local print networks to disseminate recuscant literature both on the continent and in England. For the Irish, the multi-lingual publication activities of the Franciscan colleges at Louvain, Rome and Prague have attracted most attention. The custodians of abroad colleges and individual migrants associated with them also collected substantial libraries which reflected their intellectual, spiritual and pastoral concerns. This paper begins by considering scholarship on the relationship between the abroad colleges, print culture and book collection. It then offers a case study of one of the largest abroad colleges in the eighteenth century, that maintained by the Irish in Paris. Drawing on lists of more than 2,000 books found at the Irish College on rue des Carmes by French Revolutionary officials in 1794, the paper reconstructs the ancien régime library of the college and argues that it reveals an intellectually informed and engaged community on the eve of the Revolution.


Sietske Fransen (University of Cambridge)

Project: Visual tools in Medical Notebooks
In one of my current projects I am researching the use of visual tools in seventeenth-century medical education, especially in Northern Europe. Printed books with large tabular overviews were regularly used in the philosophy degree as well as to summarise medical works by Galen. Representations of human anatomy can be found in tabular form also, as well as, for example, in the famous plates from and based on Vesalius’s De fabrica. However, how much were these visual forms of information used in teacher-student encounters, and how much were they part of the curriculum? By looking at student notebooks and lecture notes from Oxford, Cambridge and Leiden this project tries to get a better sense of the use of visual tools in early modern medical education.



John Gallagher (University of Cambridge)

I am a Research Fellow at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, and a historian of early modern Britain and Europe. My first book, Learning Languages in Early Modern England, will look at vernacular language-learning at a time when English was barely known beyond Dover. I work more broadly on education in early modern England, particularly as it was experienced outside of established educational institutions and curriculums. Other interests include the history of multilingualism, histories of speech and orality, histories of the book and reading, and the history of travel. With Dr. Jennifer Bishop, I am co-organising a conference at Cambridge in September 2016, titled ‘Teaching & Learning in Early Modern England: Knowledge and Skills in Practice’.


Anja-Silvia Goeing (Northumbria University/University of Zurich)

Reading, Visualising and Annotating Physics in Post-Reformation Switzerland: Conrad Gessner’s Work reconsidered

The Swiss physician and polymath Conrad Gessner (1516–1565) was one of the groundbreaking natural philosophers of the 16th century, the renowned and prolific author of encyclopaedias about animals, plants and stones. He turned large bodies of multi-language information and graphic illustration into books of scholarly and general knowledge that were frequently reprinted long after his death. My talk will explain how his theoretical and practical approach towards the world and mankind was centred on his preoccupation with the human soul, an object of study that had challenged classical writers such as Aristotle and Galen, and which remained as important in post-Reformation debate. Reading commentaries on Aristotle’s De Anima (On the Soul) was part of early modern physics education at university and formed the preparatory step for studying medicine.


Sundar Henny (PhD 2012, University of Basel)

currently studies the early modern reception of the Greek geographer Strabo. His revised doctoral thesis will appear (in German) under the title Written from the Body: Life Writing in the Microcosm of Seventeenth-Century Zurich (Cologne: Böhlau). In this work, autobiographical writings are shown to have been written not only in order to convey information but also in order to produce material things. The body of handwritten works did not so much reflect its author by means of mimesis but rather augmented his physical presence in the city. Written from the Body offers a revisionist picture of early modern Zurich: instead of the stereotypical vision of Protestants as obsessed with hermeneutics, we find clerks and clerics who—though perfectly orthodox in their doctrinal affiliations—were steadfast and open believers in the magic of paper and writings.

Howard Hotson (University of Oxford)

Philosophia compensiosa: reciprocal exchange of pedagogical materials and ideas between schools and universities in seventeenth-century Protestant Europe

Did school teachers use teaching tools designed by university professors?  Or was much of the traffic in the opposite direction?  This paper will use a neglected genre of academic literature – tabular summaries of the entire philosophy curriculum, regularly reprinted in Oxford and Cambridge in the third and fourth quarters of the seventeenth century but originating in far humbler institutions abroad – to broach the question of how and why universities adopted textbooks written either in or for sub-university institutions.


Jan Loop (University of Kent)

Connecting Centre and Periphery – Arabic Textbooks in in Early Modern Protestant Europe

In the 17th century the University of Leiden was the Protestant centre of Arabic studies. This was primarily due to the achievements of its two professors, Thomas Erpenius and Jacobus Golius. The grammars, textbooks and dictionaries produced by these two scholars were used all over Europe until the 19th century and their private and public teaching attracted students from all over Europe. In this paper I would like to look at how knowledge spread from this centre of Arabic learning to the peripheries of the Protestant Republic of Letters. The focus and starting point will be the life and work of Johann Fabricius from Danzig, who had studied with Golius and Leiden and returned back to Rostock in order to promote Arabic studies. His popular, but little studied textbook, Specimen Arabicum (1638), is not only a fascinating testimony to the appeal and influence which the Leiden school of Arabic had on this generation of young Protestant scholars. It also gives an indication of the various stages of knowledge of Arabic and how they depended not only on the general development of the field but also on the religious, institutional and material situation in any one particular place.


Emma Pauncefort (UCL)

I am currently finishing up a doctoral dissertation in the French department at UCL on early modern French travel writing on England (1600-1734).


Richard Serjeantson (University of Cambridge)

Philosophical Notebooks in the English Universities: Typologies, Uses, Afterlives

This paper will explore the different modes in which BA and
MA students, at the two English Universities, and also their teachers,
used manuscript notebooks to organise, record, document, and make use
of their studies in the philosophical (or morning) studies of the Arts
Course. I shall consider the ways in which these documents allow us to
reconstruct and reconsider the nature and content of philosophical
studies, forms of teaching, and the practice of oral academic
exercises, above all the primary exercise of disputation. Finally, I
shall consider some of the implications of the vagaries of survival of
these documents.


Anita Traninger (Freie Universität Berlin)

Disputations and Paradoxes: Venues for Novel Ideas

The paper will look at the formats that allowed for the discussion of positions that run counter to received opinion. It will discuss university disputations in comparison with genres such as paradoxes and declamations and argue that both served as vehicles for voicing novel ideas that contrasted with endoxa. The paper aims at showing that university disputations were more flexible with regard to novel topics than is generally assumed and that paradoxes subscribed to modes of dialectical argumentation that were not as original or subversive as they have been described.

By cross-referencing disputations and paradoxes, this paper targets the circulation of ideas and modes of argumentation between oral debate cultures at universities and print publications. It aims at highlighting connections both with regard to structure and content that presuppose and determine how theses and theories were disseminated and exchanged.


Benjamin Wardhaugh (University of Oxford)

British mathematical textbooks: use, re-use, abuse

This paper will look at the circulation and use(s) of British mathematical textbooks, including reprinting, translation, annotation, manuscript copying and extraction. It will present evidence for different cultures of mathematical reading in the period in schools, universities and private settings. And it will show that mathematical texts as actually engaged with by readers were in important ways portable, malleable and unstable.