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Grant number: FT-229790-15

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Bruce Janacek
North Central College (Naperville, IL 60540-4690)

Antiquary, Politician, and Scientist Elias Ashmole (1617-1692): Virtuosity and Knowledge in Early Modern England

Summer research and writing on British, Cultural and Intellectual History.

The thesis of this study is that while virtuosi were indeed collectors and collators of knowledge, far more significantly, they were also conduits and interlocutors of knowledge, both profane and divine. Understanding the work of a virtuoso such as Ashmole will provide a deeper understanding of how knowledge was transmitted in an era when both the printing and manuscript cultures were coexisting and when visual images were understood as political or religious symbols. However, at precisely the same time that Ashmole was pursuing his studies, seventeenth-century intellectuals were increasingly mocked because they pursued "useless" knowledge, as opposed to those who sought "useful" knowledge, such as how to make strong, long-lasting rope. Ashmole's work placed him on one side of an intellectual chasm that remains with us when the value of liberal arts education is questioned and contrasted with more vocational educational goals.

Project fields:
British History; Cultural History; Intellectual History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2015 – 7/31/2015