Colloquium: Where did they get this? Distinguishing written and non-written sources of knowledge

KNIR Colloquium
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The colloquium aims to bring together scholars working on pre-modern scientific/technical texts (broadly defined) to focus on the various questions surrounding (potential) non-written sources of written texts containing knowledge. In cases where no written source for a passage or piece of information could be identified – could the source have been oral and not written? The main question at the heart of the discussion is ‘how does one deal with potential non-written sources of knowledge/information in pre-modern texts’?

The aim is hereby to put under scrutiny the underlying dominant assumption in our disciplines, dictated by traditional philology, which addresses questions which relate to surviving written artefacts, and assumes that all such written artefacts are reliant on and building on previous (possibly lost) written sources. This traditional approach negates the possibility of a corpus on non-written knowledge, lost and invisible to us.

The two days of the colloquium will be dedicated to discussing possible methodologies, and approaches to the potential presence of non-written sources, based on texts in several different languages and traditions, based on previous research and past experiences of encountering the issue. The topics covered range from medieval Arabic and Persian to Catalan and Old Norse texts and from medieval Frisian laws, through medical texts, to humanist antiquarian literature and early printed editions of medieval geographical treatises.

You are all warmly invited to join the public lecture Between Street Knowledge and Book Knowledge: Tracing the Mandragore Lore in Medieval Arabic and Persian Texts on 16 April 2024, 17.00 CET.


© image: ‘Livre des simples médecines’, BnF MS Fr. 623,