The Dialectic of Private and Public Knowledge in Early Modern Europe

Friday, April 12, 2019
10:00 am – 5:00 pm

William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron Street

conference organized by Rebecca Jean Emigh (UCLA), Dylan Riley (UC Berkeley), Patricia Ahmed (South Dakota State University)

Knowledge is understood to be a social product that is both shaped by and subsequently affects the society from whence it sprang. Bringing together a wide variety of scholars working on different aspects of the social construction of knowledge and different forms containing it, this conference seeks a broader understanding of how this dialectical process works. What makes official efforts at information collection possible? Where did such efforts succeed or fail? How does the collection of information by private or socially located actors connect, or not, to state authority? Under what conditions does official information become “public” information? Presenting findings from a range of locations and time periods, including the early modern period in which science and information gathering were not as routinized as they are now, this conference offers a comparative perspective on how private and public information have been constructed by various social actors.


Allison Bigelow, University of Virginia
Tom Crook, Oxford Brookes University
Alex Csiszar, Harvard University
Paul M. Dover, Kennesaw State University
Edward Higgs, University of Essex
Tong Lam, University of Toronto, Mississauga
Kathrin Levitan, William & Mary
Jean-Guy Prévost, Université du Québec à Montréal
Eva Hemmungs Wirtén, Linköping University

Image: Composite of Census Frieze detail, From the Campo Marzio, Rome, 2nd century BC, Louvre; Composition VIII, Wassily Kandinsky, 1923, Guggenheim Museum; from Account book with mathematical exercises, Timothy Tyrrell, c. 1760s, Clark Library.