Renowned historian Grafton to speak at Mandel opening

Will lead seminar on research libraries in the age of Google

Professor of History Anthony Grafton

Princeton University Professor of History Anthony Grafton will speak about readers, books and the Renaissance at the opening ceremonies for the Mandel Center for the Humanities, which begin at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 26 in the atrium of the new building.

A scholar of Renaissance Europe and the history of science, Grafton has focused his major research on historical chronology in ancient and early modern Europe.

"In numerous deeply learned studies on the classical tradition, the history of the book and of reading, the history of scholarship and the history of science, Professor Grafton has enlarged our understanding of the many different ways in which Renaissance humanism sustained and transformed European cultural and intellectual life," officials of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation said in 2004 when they awarded him the foundation's distinguished achievement award, providing up to $1.5 million to support his teaching and research.

"Through emphasizing the close links between science and the humanities in the pre-modern world, his writings and teaching have changed the way Renaissance scholars in a number of disciplines see their fields," they said. "It is notable, too, that Professor Grafton has combined his great intellectual distinction with an enthusiasm for communicating his contributions to humanistic scholarship to broad audiences without condescension."

In an interview with the Princeton Bulletin, Grafton described his work as the investigation of how earlier scholars reconstructed dates and calendars in ancient and recent history and fixed their relationships to events, the development of modern science and human intellect.

"Historical chronology is considered one of the most complex subdisciplines in the field of history, and until recently has received little scholarly attention though younger scholars are beginning to study aspects of it more intensively," Grafton said. He has embarked on a large-scale, comprehensive project of reconstructing chronological scholarship of the 16th and 17th century. It will encompass classical, biblical, scientific and astronomical studies from the work of Newton, Spinoza, Descartes and other noted intellectuals of that period.

Grafton studied history and history of science at the University of Chicago and University College London. From 1974 to 1975 he taught history at Cornell University; since 1975 he has taught at Princeton, where he is currently University Professor of History and the Humanities. At Princeton he founded the Freshman Seminar Program, which he directed for 10 years. He has served as director of the Program in European Cultural Studies, the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Research and the Council of the Humanities.

His books include "Defenders of the Text," "The Footnote: A Curious History," "Christianity and the Transformation of the Book" and "Worlds Made by Words." His forthcoming book, with Joanna Weinberg, is "I Have Always Loved the Holy Tongue: Isaac Casaubon, the Jews, and a Forgotten Chapter in Renaissance Scholarship."

Grafton has contributed articles and reviews to American Scholar, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the London Review of Books, the Nation, The New Republic, the New York Review of Books, The New Yorker and the Times Literary Supplement.

He is a member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a corresponding fellow of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften and the British Academy.

The morning after his Mandel Center lecture, Grafton will run a seminar for interested faculty and graduate students to discuss his recently published Daedalus essay Apocalypse in the stacks? The research library in the age of Google, as well as have further conversation on the lecture from the evening before. The seminar will run from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m.

Categories: Humanities and Social Sciences

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