Perspectives on the constitution of collections containing scientific documents of the past

Organised by the ERC project SAW (Research Group SPHERE), in the context of the seminar History of Science, History of Text

Venue: Université Paris Diderot , Condorcet Building, room 483A
10 rue Alice Domon et Léonie Duquet 75013 Paris – map

June 9th, 2016 – 9:30 am to 5:30 pm

This session explores other facets of the working conditions of historians of science: the history of the constitution of the collections in which they find the documents that become the sources of their inquiry.

Reviel Netz, The scale of ancient culture
Florence Bretelle Establet, The Making of the Morrison Collection of Chinese Books

Programme  pdf version

Reviel Netz (Stanford University , USA)
The scale of ancient culture
Abstract  –  The talk considers the number of books and, above all, number of authors active in antiquity. The fundamental observation is that ancient culture was big. Further claims are that it emerged rapidly; remained mostly stable for many centuries; and then went through a genuine collapse in scale in the third century CE. The question is explored, to what extent the typical features of the culture of Late Antiquity can be explained in terms of such a transition in scale.

Florence Bretelle Establet (ERC Project SAW & SPHERE – CNRS &  Université Paris Diderot)
The Making of the Morrison Collection of Chinese Books
Abstract  –  Between 1807 and 1823, the Protestant missionary Robert Morrison (1782-1834) started to buy the Chinese books which were available to him in order to make a collection that would serve for Chinese studies. Since Morrison was resident in Guangzhou and Macao and had no opportunity to travel elsewhere within the empire, Morrison’s book-collecting activities were restricted to Guangzhou’s book market. In this talk, I will try to better understand what kinds of items were bought by Morrison and who his providers of books were.