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Biography and Antiquarianism: Peiresc's Archive, Peiresc's Mediterranean

Date and Time: 
Wednesday, November 19, 2014. 05:00 PM - 07:00 PM
Meeting Location: 
Building 110, Room 112
Meeting Description: 
Antiquarian, lawyer, and cat lover Nicolas Fabri de Peiresc (1580–1637), was a “prince” of the Republic of Letters and the most gifted French intellectual in the generation between Montaigne and Descartes. Mining the remarkable 70,000-page archive of this Provençal humanist and polymath, Peter N. Miller recovers a lost Mediterranean world of the early seventeenth century that was dominated by the sea: the ceaseless activity of merchants, customs officials, and ships’ captains at the center of Europe’s sprawling maritime networks. 
 
Peiresc’s Mediterranean  reconstructs the web of connections that linked the bustling port city of Marseille to destinations throughout the Western Mediterranean, the Levant, and beyond. As Miller also makes clear, Peiresc’s mastery of practical details and his collaboration with local traders and fixers as well as scholars, sheds new light on the structure of knowledge-making in the age of Bacon, Galileo, and Rubens. Miller shows that Peiresc’s pursuit of Oriental studies, for example, depended crucially on his abilities as a man of action. Exploring the historian’s craft today against the backdrop of Peiresc’s diverse research activities, Peiresc’s Mediterranean suggests new possibilities for scholarship on the past, but also for the relationship between the writing of history and its readers.
 
About the speaker:
Peter N. Miller is a Professor of Cultural History at the Bard Graduate Center, as well as its Dean. He works on the history of historical research, has written on early Modern European antiquarianism and is currently working on Peiresc’s engagement with the merchants of Marseille and the Mediterranean, as well as a history of the “use of objects as history.” He is the recipient of numerous academic awards and fellowships, including the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and the MacArthur Fellowship. He is author of such books as Peiresc’s Orient: Antiquarianism as Cultural History in the Seventeenth Century and Defining the Common Good: Empire, Religion, and Philosophy in Eighteenth-Century Britain.

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