We are delighted to report that, from 1 December 2013, Robin Buning will be joining Cultures of Knowledge as a Research Fellow, working on the detailed reconstruction of the epistolary community of Samuel Hartlib (c.1600-1662). Robin’s work on this celebrated network will continue a long-standing collective effort, advanced most recently by Dr Leigh Penman during his fellowship within Cultures of Knowledge between 2009 and 2011.
During his year with us, Robin will focus particularly on gathering structured prosopogaphical data on the most difficult, mobile and poorly understood subset of Hartlib’s correspondents: the c.350 individuals who originated on or wrote at least some of their letters from the European mainland – especially the 160 or so continental figures in direct contact with Hartlib, and particularly the English and central European intellectual, mercantile and diplomatic networks in the Netherlands, France, Germany, Scandinavia and the Baltic. This work will dovetail with that of Dr Iva Lelkova at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague, who will be undertaking analogous work on the correspondents of Hartlib’s close friend, Jan Amos Comenius. Together, their efforts will populate the new digital toolsets within EMLO, which will allow the movements of correspondents as well as correspondence to be mapped and the gradual consolidation of networks to be visualised and animated, thereby generating fresh conceptions as well as representations of the nature of the network and the processes which formed and sustained it.
Robin is splendidly equipped for this challenging task. His undergraduate specialisation in Neo-Latin literature at the University of Leiden provides an ideal linguistic preparation. His doctoral work was undertaken in the context of the project on Descartes and his Network, supervised by Professor Theo Verbeek at the University of Utrecht in association with the new edition of the French philosopher’s correspondence. His dissertation on life and work of the Utrecht philosopher Henricus Reneri – a student friend of John Dury, whose work attracted the immediate attention of Hartlib and his English friends – includes a calendar of Reneri’s correspondence and a reconstruction of a far-reaching intellectual network that embraced the United Provinces, France, England, Germany, and Transylvania. He has also transcribed and edited the letters exchanged between Reneri and Constantijn Huygens for the revised digital edition of Huygens’ correspondence compiled by the Huygens ING, which organization will provide an institutional base for the periods of his research based in the Netherlands, thereby further consolidating the links between Cultures of Knowledge and its sister project, the Circulation of Knowledge project in The Hague.