Projekte Alan Ross

Daum's boys: Schools and the Republic of Letters in early modern Germany (completed)


This book is the first in-depth study of a footsoldier of the seventeenth-century German Republic of Letters. Its subject, the polymath and schoolteacher Christian Daum [1612-1687], is today completely forgotten, yet left behind one of the largest private archives of any early modern European scholar. Drawing on this archive, my book combines quantitative evaluations of student registers, the interpretation of student violence, and the analysis of curricular curricular developments, especially the role of Arabic in the classroom. My book portrays schools as focal points of a whole world of Lutheran learning outside of universities and courts, as places not just of education but of intense scholarship, and examines their significance for German culture. Multi-confessional Germany was different from Catholic France and Protestant England in that its network of small cities fostered educational and cultural competition and made possible a much larger and socially open Republic. This book allows us for the first time to understand how the Republic of Letters was constructed from below and how it was possible for individuals from relatively humble backgrounds and occupations to be at the centre of European intellectual life. I argue that it was Latin schools more than universities were responsible for the continuity of classical culture in Germany between the 16th and 19th centuries.

Daum's boys: Schools and the Republic of Letters in early modern Germany (completed)

Beloved Foreigner: simians in early modern Europe (on-going)


My second project is situated on the disciplinary crossroads between the history of education and the history of animals. My book will examine the dramatic changes in the relationship between Europeans and simians (monkeys and apes) that took place between the 15th and 19th centuries in the form of a a history of contact between our two species.The book is structured to a) follow the life-cycle of the animals from birth in their native territories to their deaths in Europe and b) describe chronologically the major developments of their appropriation in European culture between the first wave of colonial expansion and the dawn of Darwinism. 14th-century Europeans only knew a handful of North African species of baboon and macaque. But by the end of the 18th century a wide variety of species from Asia, Central Africa and America populated the cabinets of curiosities and menageries of the courts as well as the homes of burghers and – mostly in stuffed form – the studies of scholars across Europe. By utilising original archival research, my book will examine these changes from the perspective of international trade and the expanding contacts with South East Asia, South America and Central Africa. The project is based on archival case studies in Germany, France and Switzerland and will examine, among other things, the acquisition of monkeys by traders on the West African coast, European court culture, civic culture and pet-keeping, anatomy and the display of preserved specimens in teaching collections.

Life-sized paper maché model of a gorilla built by Louis Auzoux between 1865 and 1867. The model could be taken apart, organ by organ, and was meant to serve as a teaching tool. N° inv. UM.DOR.501, Faculté de médecine de l’Université de Montpellier