Animating the Archive: Enlightenment Lives and Letters

Animating the Archive: Enlightenment Lives and Letters

Animating the archive: Enlightenment lives and letters

Research Workshop, Wed 14th June 2017

Centre for Enlightenment Studies at King’s

& Queen Mary Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies

This workshop will celebrate and respond to the publication of James Delbourgo’s book Collecting the World: The Life and Curiosity of Hans Sloane (Penguin, June 2017), a study that will provide new insight into early modern global natural history through the life, work and networks of Hans Sloane. The book examines Sloane's career from his background in Ulster to his voyage to Jamaica and his creation of a network of collectors who gathered curiosities for him throughout the world, through to the foundation of the British Museum in 1753, the first national public museum in the world. It draws on the histories of science, medicine and collecting, as well as Caribbean, imperial and global histories, and is based on extensive research in Sloane's surviving specimens, objects, manuscripts and catalogues in London's Natural History Museum, the British Museum and the British Library.

12.30-1.00Registration (River room, Strand campus)

1.00-1.30 Room K3.11

Introduction: Reconnecting Sloane: exploring the archive

EE, AG, MO and VP reflect on the collaborative doctoral project Reconnecting Sloane, placing emphasis on questions of location and practice, as well as describing the research skills required for animating the archive.

1.30-2.30Room K3.11

Enlightenment Architectures: Sir Hans Sloane’s Catalogues of His Collections

Kim Sloan (British Museum, Principal Investigator), Julianne Nyhan (UCL Digital Humanities, Co-Investigator), and Victoria Pickering (BM, Post-Doctoral Research Assistant) will explain the aims, research questions and progress to date of this 3 year Leverhulme Trust Research Project. The objective is to understand the intellectual structures of Sloane’s own manuscript catalogues of his collections and with them the origins of the Enlightenment disciplines and information management practices they helped to shape. The project will employ a pioneering interdisciplinary combination of curatorial, traditional humanities and Digital Humanities research to examine Sloane’s catalogues which reveal the way in which he and his contemporaries collected, organised and classified the world, through their descriptions, cross-references and codes.

2.30 -3.00Tea (River Room)

3.00 –4.30 Room 3.11

Open discussion of Collecting the World: The Life and Curiosity of Hans Sloane (Penguin, 2017) with James Delbourgo.

Led by Miles Ogborn and based on the pre-circulation of selected chapters from the book.

4.30 – 5.00 BREAK River Room

5.00- 6.00Animating the Archive : a panel discussion

This panel of scholars will reflect upon current research that seeks to animate eighteenth century archives, particularly focusing upon different ways of using biography as an intellectual tool to write cultural and political histories. Themes for discussion will include: individual, group and object biographies; the relationship between individual specimen and species; the role of individuals in intellectual networks; the status of correspondence as biographical evidence; and how biography figures the relationship between the local and the global.

James Delbourgo, Richard Drayton, Anne Goldgar, Colin Jones, Anna Maerker, Miles Ogborn (chaired by Elizabeth Eger)

6.00 -7.00Drinks IN THE RIVER ROOM


Introduction and chapters 3 and 5 of James Delbourgo’s Collecting the World (pdf copies available once registered at Eventbrite.