Researchers study J. A. Komenský’s correspondence

Jan Amos Komenský was one of the most influential Czech thinkers, philosophers, and authors. His literary legacy is extensive and impressive. While his key works have always been studied, his correspondence, which he maintained with the most prominent scholars from across Europe, has become a subject of research only recently. For example, an Internet database of his letters is being set up at Oxford University.
 
The first lecture entitled Jan Amos Komenský and Correspondence Networks of the European Republic of Letters, given by PhDr. Vladimír Urbánek, Ph.D., took place on the 19th of October. The lecture offered a geographical overview of Komenský’s correspondence partners within the Republic of Letters and introduced some of its key protagonists. PhDr. Vladimír Urbánek, Ph.D., head of the Department of Comenius Studies and Early Modern Intellectual History at the Institute of Philosophy, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, also discussed Komenský’s connections with an influential group of scholars in Gdańsk and with the London based circle of Samuel Hartlib.
 
Analysing data
The series continued on the 5th of November with the lecture Digital Analysis and Visualisation of Early Modern Scholarly Correspondence, delivered by Mgr. Iva Lelková, Ph.D. of the Department of Comenius Studies and Early Modern Intellectual History at the Institute of Philosophy ASCR. In her lecture, Dr Lelková introduced several projects from a rapidly developing “digital humanities” field, which deals with analysing and visualising data from the humanities, and with digitalising and further studying of written texts. “Digital humanities combine methodologies of the humanities with IT tools. Such projects offer metadata, multimedia, or interactive software as their outcomes. How to assess such outcomes, which frequently involve years of research, within the Czech science assessment methodologies, is still a problem yet to be solved,” Dr Lelková adds.
 
Online correspondence databases
Three Cultures of Knowledge projects from the Oxford University were introduced at the lecture: http://www.culturesofknowledge.org/, http://republicofletters.stanford.edu/ and http://ckcc.huygens.knaw.nl/epistolarium/.
 
The Department of Comenius Studies has been working together with the Cultures of Knowledge project for the past four years. As a part of the project, an online database of J. A. Komenský’s correspondence has been created. It is available at http://emlo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/.
 
Marie Csöszová
Philosophical Faculty student, Journal intern
 
Photo: Archive of the University of Pardubice