Reassembling the Republic of Letters
Between 1500 and 1800, a revolution in postal communication allowed ordinary men and women to scatter letters across and beyond Europe. This exchange helped knit together what contemporaries called the respublica litteraria, a knowledge-based civil society, crucial to that era’s intellectual breakthroughs, and formative of many modern European values and institutions.
Ironically, the exchange of letters which created this community also dispersed the documentation required to study it, posing enormous difficulties for historians of the subject ever since.To reassemble that scattered material and chart the history of that imagined community we need a revolution in digital communications.
This COST Action is dedicated to envisaging the open-access, open-source, transnational digital infrastructure capable of facilitating the radically multilateral collaboration needed to reassemble this scattered documentation and to support a new generation of scholarly methods and research questions.