Transforming Information: Record-Keeping in the Early Modern World

Event Date: 
09 Apr 2014 to 11 Apr 2014

British Academy, London.

Scholars of the early modern world rarely pause to consider how and why the archives upon which they rely came into being, despite the fact that these processes have fundamentally shaped both our knowledge of the past and the technical and specialist skills we must acquire in order to recover and interpret it. This interdisciplinary conference will bring together historians, literary scholars and archivists to explore the phenomenon of record keeping between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries The incentives behind the contemporary surge in record-keeping will be investigated in a range of global contexts and societies, together with their relationship with the religious, political, intellectual and cultural transformations that defined the era. The conference endeavours to focus fresh attention on the assumptions and constraints behind the creation, control, preservation and use of records in an era of significant change. A further objective is to provoke critical reflection on the ways in which these developments have served to shape and constrain historical knowledge and scholarly interpretation.

Speakers include: Arendt Bredecke (Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich), Paula Findlen (Columbia University), Marcus Friedrich (Max-Planck Institute, Berlin), John-Paul Ghobrial (Balliol College, Oxford), Jelle Haemers (KU Leuven), Dr Frederik Buylaert (University of Brussels), Randolph Head (University of California, Riverside), Ann Hughes (Keele University), Arnold Hunt (British Library), Lauren Kassell (University of Cambridge), Kiri Paramore (Leiden University), Judith Pollmann (Leiden University), Jason Scott-Warren (University of Cambridge), Adam Smyth (Birkbeck, University of London), Jacob Soll (University of Southern California), Filippo da Vivo (Birbeck, University of London), Andy Wood (Durham University)

Further details and booking forms will be made available on the website of the Faculty of History, University of Cambridge, in due course. For further information in the interim, please contact Alexandra Walsham (

Organisers: Alexandra Walsham, Kate Peters and Liesbeth Corens, University of Cambridge