Intellectual Geography: Comparative Studies, 1550-1700,
St Anne’s College, University of Oxford,
5-7 September 2011
Although intellectual historians have grown adept at relating the ideas of individuals to local circumstances of time and place, we have not yet fully grasped how the organisation of intellectual activity across broader expanses of space has affected the development of intellectual traditions over longer periods of time. ‘Intellectual Geography: Comparative Studies, 1550-1700’ (St Anne’s College, University of Oxford, 5-7 September) brings together case studies and conceptual papers exploring the roots of local, regional and national intellectual traditions within concrete features of political, economic, confessional, and physical geography. Viewed from this perspective, much of the intellectual turbulence of the seventeenth century can be seen to result from the accompanying political turbulence, which destroyed established intellectual centres, uprooted individuals and communities, and transplanted them to new contexts. The fertility of the era’s international correspondence networks likewise derived partly from their role in bringing these localized traditions into contact.