Noel Golvers

Scholarly Correspondence from the Jesuits in China with Europe (17th-18th Centuries)

2010 Seminar Series / Thursday 29 April, 2010


Dr Noël Golvers (Catholic University of Leuven) provides a  fascinating overview of the contours, chronology, and thematic preoccupations of Jesuitical correspondence. In a wide-ranging analysis, Golvers argues for the strategic importance of a large, well-regulated correspondence network to this administratively complex and geographically distributed community, a network which frequently and increasingly sustained communication on scientific matters alongside confessional and organizational subjects (previously used by Golvers to shed light on Jesuit contributions to astronomy and mathematics). He provides an overview of the characteristics of the correspondence generated by the China mission, information on transfer routes (both overseas and overland), and a synopsis of the broad range of learned topics they covered, especially from the 1680s (including mathematics, astronomy, engineering, and cartography). He also considers the impact of the letters on contemporary European readers, as well as their descent to and organisation within modern archives and collections.

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