higher learning interactions, comment

Margaret DeLacy's picture

This blog wants to open a project that started in 2015 with a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grant to bring together an international working group scrutinising the nature and scope of higher learning and collaborative networks from the late Middle Ages to the era of Enlightenment.  Novel approaches consider topics that university historians have largely ignored: the intense collaboration between university scholars and instructors; printers and providers of teaching objects and tools; administrators and students at academies, independent colleges, gymnasiums and Latin schools.

The topics are roughly structured around the following four themes:


Politics of Interaction: Colleges, Academies and Universities

National and civic politics conditioned collaborations between different institutions of higher learning. Who was responsible for setting up and maintaining regulations and control of these exchanges? Were goals of the collaborations explained and discussed in governing bodies inside and outside the institutions in question? Did the manner in which professors were selected influence the scope and character of institutions? How relevant were school regulations about admission and scholarships for multi-institutional careers of students? Were schools, academies and universities free to choose other institutions to collaborate with? How did scholars, philosophers and scientists consider memberships in different academies, and how did this help to connect the institutional bodies? Did changing collaborations induce curriculum changes?


Important and Celebrated Individual Encounters

The second theme investigates collaborations between members of colleges, academies, and universities. How do letter exchanges and personal papers help to describe individual collaborations? Do they define types of teacher-student relations, collegiate rivalries or give hints about the exchange of books, objects and common interests? Was there a gender barrier, and was it overcome?


The Venues for Scholarly Output : Collections, Treatises, Textbooks, Archives

The third theme examines co-operative scholarly outputs, including manuscript collections, books and other knowledge commodities. Did dedications connect institutions, such as books that school teachers wrote and dedicated to university professors, and vice versa? Did school teachers use teaching tools designed by university professors? Were religiously induced barriers maintained in all cases of co-operative usage? How did university professors deal with the writings of their colleagues from school?


Co-operative Inter-regional Worlds: Productions, Markets, Travel and Trade

Institutions of higher education could not operate without the supply of different materials that helped every-day learning and teaching. They sought co-operative and inter-regional networks of trade and skills: how did the marketing of book along trade routes reflect the connections between regionally, nationally and internationally-connected universities and colleges? How were objects for natural philosophy courses or the scholarly collection of a university produced and merchandised?

Happy Sleuthing!


anja.goeing (at) gmail.com or

agoeing (at) fas.harvard.edu