Enfilade

Conference | Archival Afterlives

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on May 8, 2015

From The Royal Society:

Archival Afterlives: Life, Death, and Knowledge-Making
in Early Modern British Scientific and Medical Archives
The Royal Society, London, 2 June 2015

William Derham's annotated proof of Philosophical Transactions (RS L&P/121/1/5)

William Derham’s annotated proof of Philosophical Transactions (RS L&P/121/1/5)

Early modern naturalists collected, generated, and shared massive amounts of paper. Inspired by calls for the wholesale reform of natural philosophy and schooled in humanist note-taking practices, they generated correspondence, reading notes (in margins, on scraps, in notebooks), experimental and observational reports, and drafts (rough, partial, fair) of treatises intended for circulation in manuscript or further replication in print. If naturalists claimed all knowledge as their province, natural philosophy was a paper empire. In our own day, naturalists’ materials, ensconced 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. Recently, the creation of such papers, and their originators’ organization of them and intentions for them have received much attention. The lives archives lived after their creators’ deaths have been explored less often. The posthumous fortunes of archives are crucial both to their survival as historical sources today and to their use as scientific sources in the past.

How did (often) disorderly collections of paper come to be “the archives of the Scientific Revolution”? The proposed conference considers the histories of these papers from the early modern past to the digital present, including collections of material initially assembled by Samuel Hartlib, John Ray, Francis Willughby, Isaac Newton, Hans Sloane, Martin Lister, Edward Lhwyd, Robert Hooke, and Théodore de Mayerne. The histories unearthed—of wrangling over the control and organization of the papers of dead naturalists (and by extension, of the legacies of the dead and the living), of putting the scraps and half- finished experiments cast off by fertile minds to work, of extending and preserving their legacies in print —serve not only as an index of the cultural position of scientific activity since the early modern period. They also engage us in thinking about genealogies of scientific influence, the material and intellectual resources that had to be deployed to continue the scientific project beyond the life of any one individual, the creation and management of scientific genius as a posthumous project, and scientific activity as a collective endeavor in which scribes, archives and library keepers, editors, digital humanists and naturalists’ surviving friends and family members had a stake.

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P R O G R A M M E

9:15  Registration and coffee

9:30  Welcome and Introduction by Vera Keller, Anna Marie Roos, and Elizabeth Yale

9:45  Session I | Archival Afterlives: Miscellanies and Method
Chair: Anna Marie Roos, University of Lincoln
• Vera Keller, University of Oregon: Scarlet Letters: The Mayerne Papers within the Royal Society Archives
• Richard Serjeantson, Trinity College, Cambridge University: University Natural Philosophy in the Archives

11:00  Tea and coffee

11:15  Session II | Archival Afterlives: Natural Histories
Chair: Felicity Henderson, University of Exeter
• Elizabeth Yale, University of Iowa: ‘A Dying Hand’: Crafting the Posthumous Legacies of John Ray
• Anna Marie Roos, University of Lincoln: ‘Fossilised Remains’: William Huddesford, and the Lhwyd and Lister Ephemera in the Bodleian Library

12:30  Lunch

1:45  Session III | Archival Afterlives: Script and Print in the Sloane Collections
Chair: Anne Goldgar, King’s College, London
• Arnold Hunt, King’s College London, Under Sloane’s Shadow: The Archive of James Petiver
• Alison Walker, British Library: Collecting Knowledge: Annotated Material in the Library of Sir Hans Sloane

3:00  Session IV | Archival Afterlives: Archiving for Future Pasts
Chair: TBA
• Leigh Penman, University of Queensland: ‘Omnium exposita rapinae’: A Biography of the Papers of Samuel Hartlib, 1662–2015
•Victoria Sloyan, Wellcome Library: Collecting Genomics: Archiving Modern, Collaborative Science

4:15  Tea and coffee

4.30  Commentary and discussion led by Michael Hunter, Birkbeck College, University of London

5:30  Plenary Session
Lauren Kassell, Pembroke College, Cambridge: Stars and Scribes, Astrology and Archives (simulcast University of Oregon)

Abstracts are available here»

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