Geschichte der Frühen Neuzeit




José Beltrán (Paris): Scribal practices in natural history: The archive of Philibert de Commerson (1727-1773)

Vortrag im Rahmen des Oberseminars Frühe Neuzeit



beltran_pflanze (2)Long after the impact of print, scribal practices remained pervasive and vital in the work of scholars. Deemed empiricists par excellence, naturalists in particular were paper masters: they took and managed notes and observation records, cut and pasted from printed books, read ‘pen in hand,’ acquired and even plundered archives. An enlightening case is that of Philibert de Commerson (1727-1773), a French physician who sailed towards the South Seas on the occasion of Louis-Antoine de Bougainville’s 1760 expedition. During the journey, he compiled avast archive of the Austral flora and fauna. His papers, however, go well beyond first-hand, autopsical observations: his excerpt notebooks, card catalogs, herbaria, and lists reflect the word of paper in which naturalists plied their trade. In this presentation, I will pay particular attention to three aspects: the management of bookish information, classification as an archival gesture, and the patrimonial character of scholars’ papers.


  • Zeit: 17-19 Uhr c.t.
  • Ort: Historicum, Raum K 026