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Title: Writing the Thesaurus of Latinity: A Study in the History of Philological Practice
Authors: Flow, Christian
Advisors: Grafton, Anthony T
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: Eduard Wölfflin
history of humanities
Robert Estienne
Subjects: European history
Ancient languages
Science history
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation is a history of the ways scholars have sought to observe the dispersed evidence that remains of an ancient language, and how they have looked to make timely, or even timeless, the knowledge generated thereby. It examines episodes in the development of a particular piece of philological equipment—the lexicon—from the Renaissance through the early twentieth century. Physicists have had their atlases and detectors, astronomers their star-charts and telescopes, botanists their herbaria: tools that isolated, augmented, and displayed objects of study to the observing eye. Meanwhile philologists—scholars of language—have drawn on instruments like the lexicon, which has likewise served to inform and enhance the observational capabilities of its users, both presenting philological particulars for manipulation and analysis, and, especially in its more ambitious forms, proving productive of new conclusions. By reconstructing the planning, assembly, updating, and outmoding of these lexicographical instruments, I argue, we can not only say much about central trends and tensions in the history of philology, but also uncover some of the ways that philological practices have intersected with those of scholars in apparently disparate fields. The dissertation’s first part centers on the French scholar-printer Robert Estienne (1503-59) and his Latin lexicon, the Dictionarium, seu Latinae linguae Thesaurus. Books owned and annotated by Robert and his son, the great lexicographer of Greek Henri Estienne (d. 1598), help tell a story of the information-management operations supporting the early modern lexical observator, the different identities available to the lexicon-maker, and the many attempts, extending into the eighteenth century, to update the Estienne Thesaurus. Part Two offers the most comprehensive history yet available of a project—begun in the 1890s in Germany and still in progress today—to write the history of the Latin language from an unprecedently complete collection of lexical evidence. This modern Thesaurus linguae Latinae and its millions-strong archive of lexical examples anchor an account of the apparatus, ambitions, and anxieties of the nineteenth-century philological observer, a figure linked not only diachronically to the workshop of the late-Renaissance printer, but also synchronically, to contemporary librarians, statisticians, astronomers, and even foresters.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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