- Call for papers: 8th Gewina Woudschoten Conference—Towards a History of Knowledge, in Zeist near Utrecht, June 21–22, 2019 (application deadline: January 15, 2019), via Marieke Hendriksen (@Ms_History)
- Call for submissions: Women in the History of Science: A Liberating the Curriculum Sourcebook (deadline: January 10, 2019)
- Conference report: Migrant Knowledges: Concepts, Voices, Spaces by Andrea Westermann
- Conference report: Learning by the Book: Manuals and Handbooks in the History of Knowledge by Alrun Schmidtke (@schreiber_in)
- Blog post: Copyrighting Cartography with Fictional Places by Bess Lovejoy at Atlas Obscura
- Blog post: Reconsidering Mechanization in the Industrial Revolution: The Dye Book of William Butt by Lidia Plaza (@_p_liddy) at JHIBLOG
In Elizabethan London, one of the more surprising things a wealthy owner of a beautifully illustrated folio volume could do was to take a sharp knife and cut it to pieces. John Blagrave’s 1585 Mathematical Jewel, in fact, demands nothing less. This work, which introduced an elaborate instrument of Blagrave’s design for performing astronomical calculations, … Continue reading More than a Manual: Early-Modern Mathematical Instrument Books
Readers of this blog may have asked themselves what the image identifying the Learning by the Book contributions shows. At first glance, the photo simply contains a row of worn, bound, heavy handbooks on a library shelf. The books are arguably very European and modern; however, they convey an aspect of “bookish” materiality that many … Continue reading The Politics of the Handbook
In 1737, the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus bitterly complained about the haphazard naming practices of his contemporaries. “The names bestowed on plants by the ancient Greeks and Romans I commend,” he wrote, “but I shudder at the sight of most of those given by modern authorities: for those are for the most part a mere … Continue reading The Limits of Book Learning
Often overlooked, handbooks, protocols, and manuals are key in the making, preserving, and sharing of knowledge. Before meeting in Princeton, NJ, for a four-day conference, participants published short pieces on this blog. The idea behind the conference and the blog series was to "bring together three vibrant fields—history of books and media, science and technology … Continue reading Learning by the Book: Manuals and Handbooks in the History of Knowledge (May–June 2018)
Circa 1835, following a survey of recent Dutch publications in shogunal collections, the Japanese physician Koseki San'ei (1787–1839) concluded that among the strengths of new European approaches to education, a proactive attitude toward the power of cheap pedagogical print was paramount. European countries, Koseki declared, "produce affordable and easy-to-understand books on all arts and sciences, … Continue reading Timing the Textbook: Capitalism, Development, and Western Knowledge in the Nineteenth-Century
In one month, an international group of almost 40 scholars will convene at Princeton for four days to discuss manuals and handbooks. We—Angela Creager, Elaine Leong, Kerstin von der Krone, and Mathias Grote, aka the organizers—are absolutely thrilled about what will be a great event to explore a novel field of study, straddling continents and … Continue reading Why Manuals and Handbooks? Why Now?
Manuals and handbooks are widely disseminated tools in the production and circulation of knowledge, used not only in education, science, and technology, but also in broader social and cultural contexts, such as the arts, religion, business, and politics. Undertaking to present a concise body of knowledge on a specific subject, they serve as reference and … Continue reading Learning by the Book: Manuals and Handbooks in the History of Knowledge
As nations brace to firm up their borders in 2017, a short history of people who inhabited the periphery reminds us of the role boundaries played in an earlier era of globalization. The early woodcuts that helped define this periphery offer a window into the history of knowledge about the Other and also tell us … Continue reading Visual Epistemology and a Short History of the Monstrous Races
Pamela H. Smith, "Why Write a Book? From Lived Experience to the Written Word in Early Modern Europe," Bulletin of the German Historical Institute 47 (Fall 2010): 25–50.
In this article, Pamela Smith links the tacit and explicit knowledge of artisans in an innovative way. See also Jonathan Sheehan's interesting review of Smith's related book, The Body of the Artisan: Art and Experience in the Scientific Revolution (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2004).