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KB Lecture - Assessing the Truth

Historian Harold Cook has been researching the exchange of information among seventeenth-century scholars as part of his fellowship at NIAS and the KB – National Library of the Netherlands. He will be presenting the results of his research at a public lecture on Wednesday 16 January 2013.


Collection of Cuper’s Writings

Gisbert Cuper (1644-1716), professor and politician from the Dutch town of Deventer, was a renowned scholar at the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth century. He corresponded with scholars, collectors and librarians from all over Europe. Cuper’s letters and personal notes remained in family possession until 1854, at which time they were acquired by the KB and became part of their collection of modern manuscripts

Professor Harold Cook (Brown University) has studied the rich collection of Cuper’s writings in the past five months. In his lecture, Cook characterises Cuper’s correspondence as a search for truth. Using telling examples such as mermaids stories, images of antique coins and drawings of exotic tribes, Cook will reveal the motivation of his Deventer predecessor. The historical practice of information exchange in the Republiek der Letteren (Republic of Letters) is related to contemporary concerns such as Open Access.

KB Fellows

“Assessing the Truth. Correspondence and Information at the End of the Golden Age” is the title of Harold Cook’s lecture, which will simultaneously be published by Primavera Pers. The KB fellowship is awarded to a scholar of repute in the field of the humanities, who wishes to use the extensive collections of the KB for his or her research. This fellowship is a joint venture between the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB) – National Library of the Netherlands, and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS). The research facilities provided at both institutes allow the fellow to enjoy the best of both institutions: the KB’s unique collections and expertise and NIAS’ international and multidisciplinary environment. Previous KB Fellows include Peter Burke, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Robert Darnton, Jonathan Israel, Lisa Jardine, Robin Kinross, Jo Tollebeek and Eberhard König.


The lecture will take place at the Aula of the KB and starts at 20.00 hours. Attendance is free, but registration is necessary: please send an email to activiteiten@kb.nl.