Scholarly Identity on the Grand Tour: Paper Presentation in Utrecht

Statue of Erasmus in Rotterdam, 1694.

On 7 November, Alan Moss and I gave a paper presentation in Utrecht, at an international conference entitled Memory and Identity in the Learned World: Community Formation in the Early Modern World of Science and Learning. The conference was organised by the members of the ERC-funded SKILLNET project. Our paper was entitled The Graves of Learned Men: Scholarly Identity on the Grand Tour, and discussed the ways in which seventeenth-century Dutch and Polish travellers gave expression to a scholarly identity by reflecting on so-called lieux de savoir, places of knowledge. While journeying through Europe, travellers would often visit such places and describe them in their travelogues. Popular destinations were the universities at Oxford, Leiden and Leuven, and so were the graves, birth places and statues of learned men like Erasmus, Lipsius, Grotius or the Scaligers. Some of these scholars also left behind ‘relics’, like a pen, a last will or even a skull. Alan and I gave various examples of Poles and Dutchmen describing such lieux de savoir, including the Dutch poet Caspar van Kinschot (1622-1649), who wrote several Latin compositions when visiting the house of the Scaligers in Agen.

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