By examining his library and the heterogeneous sources and media associated with him (letters, drawings of machines, book loans from the ducal library, bills, professional correspondence, lecture notes and citations), the project seeks to examine the interdependencies between the inventory of materials, which resemble a collection, and Sturm’s writings and practical output. The aim is to reconstruct the network of knowledge and scholarship in which Sturm was active and which connected him with his contemporaries. This survey of Sturm’s cosmos of knowledge is to be conducted using the methods of the digital humanities, with the expectation that this will provide momentum for the reconstruction of heterogeneous collections and a study of their semantic characteristics.

Lakemacher can be considered a typical representative of the Helmstedt professoriate, and his library is typical of that of contemporary professors and scholars. Questions and insights arising from the sale of Lakemacher’s books (some 2,000 bibliographic items in c.3,000 volumes) are the focus of the project, for a collection’s dynamics only manifest themselves once the owner has passed away and the books take on a life of their own, so to speak, in that they once again enter into circulation, moving around into the hands of new owners. Research is to be conducted, then, into the conditions surrounding the professorial ownership of books in the milieu of the university of Helmstedt and the way these books travelled around. Here, the surviving interleaved auction catalogue, which includes a bill of sale, will serve as the primary object of investigation, as it offers reliable access to the sales process as well as the books’ fates. The practice of acquiring and breaking up a book collection – and thus the dynamics of private book ownership – offers a repository of data which can be used, with the help of digital methods, to itemise, collate and visualise normative rules and social, economic and intellectual factors.

Sub-project of the Marbach Weimar Wolfenbüttel Research Association (MWW)

Funding: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (Federal Ministry of Education and Research, BMBF) within the framework of the MWW
Duration: March 2019 – February 2024
Project participants: Dr Jörn Münkner (team member), Katrin Schmidt (team member), Rebecca Sperl (team member)