Intellectual Networks

Early modern scholars’ libraries as spaces of knowledge and communication

The scholars Leonhard Christoph Sturm (1669–1719) and Johann Gottfried Lakemacher (1695–1736) are the focus of the subproject “Intellectual Networks” at the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel. The private libraries of both men comprise an important part of the database, with which researchers hope to refine the historical profile of their former owners. And that is not the only focus of the project; by studying additional personalised sources and media with respect to their data-technical and semantic characteristics (based on loans from the ducal library, correspondence, individuals mentioned in the historical documents and auction records) and a network-aided, analytical evaluation, researchers hope to derive the coordinates of the intellectual matrix in which both scholars moved.

Leonhard Christoph Sturm

Sturm was an architectural theorist, a professor of mathematics and architecture (who also taught at the Ritterakademie Rudolph-Antoniana in Wolfenbüttel, 1694−1702) and a controversial theologian. The bibliographical investigation of his private library, borrowed books and scientific instruments from the Wolfenbüttel Augusta, the analysis of his letters to contemporaries, such as August Hermann Francke, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Gottfried Kirch, and last but not least, the correlation of his architectural proposals and drawings, theological arguments, mentioned names and quotes from his oeuvre in line with the development of discourse all create the material basis for a network-aided analytical evaluation. The goal is to provide contours to the cosmos of knowledge that Sturm intellectually influenced and in which he interacted in discourse with his contemporaries.

Johann Gottfried Lakemacher

Lakemacher was a professor of Greek and Oriental languages at the Academia Julia in Helmstedt. By the end of his life, he had amassed a collection of some 3,000 books. The collection was sold a year after his death, for which a catalogue was produced with one or more interleaved copies. In the Wolfenbüttel exemplar, after every two pages of book titles, there is a double page which provided space for recording the names of the buyers and prices. This registry allows us to reconstruct who purchased which books and what price. The examination of the Lakermacher Collection underscores the dynamic character of collections in general. The case study aims to reveal the usances and rules underlying sales practices, which in turn shed light on the life of the books themselves (their renewed circulation and travels). The focus here is to obtain a better understanding of professorial book ownership in the context of the university in Helmstedt and the paths of books. The dissolution and reappropriation of the Lakemacher Collection augment the data repository, based on which researchers wish to collate and visualise the normative rules and social, economic and intellectual factors of the sales process with the aid of digital media.

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