JOHANN FRIEDRICH SCHANNAT AND THE EUROPEAN REPUBLIC OF LETTERS
Practices of Historcial-Critical Scholarship between Communication, the Making of Knowledge and Identification
The project inscribes itself in the studies of history of historiography. On the basis of the correspondence and works of Johann Friedrich Schannat (1683 – 1739), it wants to show how this scholar contributed to the development of historical-critical scholarship. Schannat, who was born in Luxembourg City, was one of the leading historians of the first half of the 18th century and is representative for many scholars of that time. His international career led him to many places in Europe, amongst others Paris, Vienna, Prague and Rome, where he offered his historiographical services to many princes and other patrons, a situation which made him dependent on their goodwill. Schannat had to constantly look for new employment and did this mainly with the help of his friends and acquaintances. His network consisted mostly of members of the res publica literaria, which was a community of scholars, who communicated mainly through letters and whose primary function was the sharing of work materials, “nova literaria” and other information that could be helpful to the members. Their letters can be considered as important sources for erudite life and work. The analysis of the 350 letters that are preserved in Schannat’s papers in the National Archives in Prague will thus represent a valuable contribution to the history of erudition. Combining these findings with an examination of Schannat’s works, this research will give an overview of (1) communication channels and the functioning of the Republic of Letters, (2) epistemic practices, work processes, work conditions and employed methods, as well as (3) of the construction and the attribution of identities. On the basis of these findings, the final aim of this project is the characterization of a newly emerging critical scholarship and an analysis of its contribution to the development towards today’s historiography.