Category Archives: Projects & Centres

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COST Digital Humanities Conference: Reassembling the Republic of Letters

UPDATE 16/03/2015: Registration now closed. Watch this space for news of the new COST website.

We are delighted to announce that limited spaces for members of the public have now been released for the forthcoming conference of the COST Action ‘Reassembling the Republic of Letters’! We’d love to see you there!

Conference: Reassembling the Republic of Letters, COST Action Digital Humanities Conference
Date: 12pm Sunday 22nd – Monday 23rd March 2015
Location: St Anne’s College, University of Oxford
Registration fee: £16
Programme: COST_Conference-Programme_22-23March2015

In order for non-Action members to attend the conference, you must sign up via the link above by Friday 13th March 2015 and must pay the mandatory refreshments fee of £16 to cover lunches and refreshments. You are welcome to purchase the Sunday conference dinner or Monday buffet dinner, and limited accommodation at St Anne’s is also available – please purchase asap via the link above. Please indicate on the registration form if you are not intending to stay for both days, however, the refreshments fee is a subsided flat rate for all delegates, regardless of whether attending for the full 1 1/2 days. Additional accommodation options can be found at

As of March 2015, 30 countries have joined the COST Action, and over 70 representatives from the fields of history, literature, archival study, digital humanities, IT, librarianship, editing, and design will be gathering in Oxford for the network event. Come and join the conversation!

Further details on the COST network: Between 1500 and 1800, the evolution of postal communications enhanced the capacity of ordinary men and women to scatter correspondence across and beyond Europe. This epistolary exchange helped knit together an imagined community known to contemporaries as the ‘republic of letters’, an international, knowledge-based civil society, crucial to that era’s intellectual breakthroughs, and formative of many of modern Europe’s 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. The key insight of this project is that the ongoing revolution in digital communications can provide a fresh solution to the scholarly problems created by the previous evolution of postal communications. This project is therefore dedicated to designing open-access and open-source 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.

Further details on the event: This multi-faceted event combines Working Group meetings and a public-facing two-day conference, with the aim of providing all participants with a comprehensive and up-to-date understanding of current developments relevant to the network. Running alongside these, a digital humanities Training School will induct newcomers into the current state of the field. The conference is composed of a series of brief ‘flash presentations’, which present problems or developing solutions relevant to some of the key items in each Working Group’s agenda. Please see the conference programme above.

Please note that members of the public can only attend the Conference (i.e. 12pm on Sunday 22nd to the end of Monday 23rd), and not the Training School or Action meetings.

Please direct any queries to cost[at]

EMLO re-launch! New website, new catalogues, and old friends

It gives us huge pleasure to announce the re-launch of Early Modern Letters Online – EMLO – our union catalogue of sixteenth-, seventeenth-, and eighteenth- century letters, comprising of a complete aesthetic makeover for the website and the release of nine new collections focused on significant figures of the republic of letters.

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Icones Leidenses 44, Collection Leiden University, Digitool Leiden University

The Correspondence of Isaac Casaubon: project profile and job announcement

The Leverhulme Trust has recently announced that that it is to fund the publication of a substantial portion of the extensive correspondence of Isaac Casaubon (1559-1614). This project, directed by Dr Paul Botley at the University of Warwick, will produce a critical edition of Casaubon’s correspondence during his last years in England, from his arrival in 1610 until his death in 1614.

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Lizzy Williamson Joins Cultures of Knowledge as Digital Project Manager

We are delighted to announce that, from 1 October 2013, Dr Elizabeth Williamson will be joining Cultures of Knowledge as our brand new Digital Project Manager, overseeing all aspects of our activities on a day-to-day basis, with particular reference to the ongoing development and population of Early Modern Letters Online. She succeeds Dr James Brown, who after four years with us will be taking up a research post at the University of Sheffield on the new AHRC/ESRC project Intoxicants and Early Modernity: England, 1570-1740.

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New Correspondence Project: John Collins and Mathematical Culture in Restoration England

We are excited to report that Dr Jackie Stedall and Dr Philip Beeley, the latter a former Research Fellow on Cultures of Knowledge (where he worked on the letters of mathematician John Wallis), have been awarded a major AHRC grant for a new early modern correspondence project on ‘Mathematical Culture in Restoration England: The Life and Letters of John Collins’.

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20,000 Dutch Letters Now Online: CKCC Launch the ePistolarium

Our great friends and colleagues at Circulation of Knowledge and Learned Practices in the Seventeenth-Century Dutch Republic (CKCC), based at Huygens ING, have just launched their virtual research environment for Dutch scientific correspondences, the wonderful ePistolarium. This major new resource contains metadata on and full texts of around 20,000 letters sent to and from nine seventeenth-century scholars (including René Descartes, Constantijn and Christiaan Huygens, and Antoni van Leeuwenhoek), and is equipped with faceted search, a neat visualization suite (results can be displayed on timelines, maps, and as both correspondent and co-citation network diagrams), as well as some bleeding edge techniques in corpus linguistics such as named entity recognition and topic modelling. Check it out!

The ePistolarium was launched in the magnificent Gertrudiskapel in Utrecht on 13 June 2013, and, alongside presentations from its creators (and a terrific video), our very own Howard Hotson was on hand to celebrate this new tool and to consider its relationship to Early Modern Letters Online as well as its significance to scholarship on correspondences more broadly (a video of his talk, entitled ‘The ePistolarium and the Digital Republic of Letters: The Circulation of Knowledge and Learned Practices in the Twenty-First Century’, is above). Indeed, these are exciting times for the Digital Republic of Letters in general and the relationship between our two initiatives in particular; we’re going to share metadata, are co-applicants with other interested parties on major funding proposals to COST and Digging into Data, and will be sharing the stage at several forthcoming events, most imminently (with Antony McKenna) at our panel on ‘Electrifying the Republic of Letters’ at Intellectual Networks in the Long Seventeenth Century at Durham next week. Congratulations to Charles, Guido, Walter, Wijnand, and the rest of the CKCC team!

Bess of Hardwick’s Letters Now Online

Bess of Hardwick’s Letters: The Complete Correspondence c.1550-1608 has recently gone online. Created by the AHRC Letters of Bess of Hardwick Project, led by Dr Alison Wiggins (University of Glasgow), this wonderful new digital edition makes freely available full texts of all 234 letters to and from Bess – one of Elizabethan England’s most famous figures – alongside colour images of 185 missives (with transcription facilities), contextualised by extensive commentaries on Bess and on the material and linguistic characteristics of early modern English correspondence that are alone worth the price of admission. Alison discusses the creation of this extraordinary resource in this super talk from our 2012 seminar series. Congratulations, Alison and team!