A culture of reuse : libraries, learning and memory in early modern Germany
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This dissertation studies the collection and reuse of scholarly books in early modern Germany. Employing a book-historical methodology for the wider history of knowledge, I show why used books played such a central role in the early modern transmission of knowledge. Learned book culture was focused on reuse to a larger degree than the history of the book has acknowledged. Following the afterlives of libraries, I argue that learned collecting in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries was grounded in a culture of reuse and the trading of old books at auction. The aim of my study is to recontextualise the history of book collecting in this material culture of auctioning. Used books were especially prized in the early modern Republic of Letters if they contained traces of their forebears. This emphasis on the used instead of the new had a lasting influence on the memory of scholars. The German classical scholar Johann Albert Fabricius (1668–1736) had incorporated the notes left behind in the books of Marquard Gude (1635–1689) into his own works, redefining the intellectual legacy of his predecessor. My study focuses on the libraries of a group of scholars in the social network of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716), covering the transformational period from the introduction of auctioning after the Thirty Years’ War to the advent of larger public libraries during the 1750s. In contrast to earlier studies on auctioning, which were mostly based on printed catalogues, my thesis draws on a wider range of sources, such as annotations and marks of scholars in printed books, unpublished correspondence, wills, catalogues of books both in manuscript and in print and council minutes. By reconstructing the afterlife of libraries, this study reveals how the early modern transmission of knowledge was based on material practices of secondhand scholarship.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2027-07-20
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Restricted until 20th July 2027
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