John Selden, 1584-1654: Scholarship in Context
Thursday 24th – Saturday 26th June 2010
Magdalen College, Oxford
Professor G.J. Toomer • Mordechai Feingold • Peter Miller • Jason Rosenblatt • Richard Tuck
Sharon Achinstein • Sir John Baker • Mark Bland • Hans Blom • Elizabethanne Boran • Christopher Brooks • Alan Coates • Theodor Dunkelgrün • Anthony Grafton • Simon Keynes • Vivienne Larminie • Jan Loop • Scott Mandelbrote • Anthony Milton • Sarah Mortimer • Martin Mulsow • Eric Nelson • Paul Nelles • Graham Parry • Annabel Patterson • Jean-Louis Quantin • Julian Roberts • Richard Sharpe • Harvey Shoolman • Colin Tite • Chad van Dixhoorn • Dirk van Miert • Joanna Weinberg
This conference celebrates the 400th anniversary of the first publications of the jurist, historian, Hebraist and polymath, John Selden (1584-1654) with a major international conference on his life and works in Oxford. Selden, ‘the monarch in letters’ (Jonson), England’s ‘chief of learned men’ (Milton), was the most important scholar in Britain in the seventeenth century. He was a major antiquary and historian of English law, whose work was unrivalled before Maitland in the nineteenth century. He was also a central figure in the transmission of Oriental learning to the West. He was acknowledged in his lifetime as the greatest living Christian authority on Jewish law and history; indeed, he probably knew more about Rabbinical Judaism than any Christian who had ever lived. He encouraged the study of Arabic, and produced one of the first English editions of an Arabic text. He was also an internationally recognised theorist of international law (in his Mare Clausum) and natural law (De Iure Naturali et Gentium). His works were caught up in many of the most controversial religious and political issues of the day, provoking praise and polemic throughout Europe. His correspondence network extended to northern Europe and eastwards to Aleppo. He was also the greatest collector of books and manuscripts in England: his library included three pre-Columbian codices and a map of China that is now recognized as one of the most important of seventeenth-century Chinese historical artefacts. The majority of Selden’s library came to the Bodleian after his death. An exhibition of treasures from among Selden’s collections is being held in the Bodleian in association with the conference. Selden is a figure of comparable importance to Grotius and Hobbes, and our conference intends to explore new ways in which this major figure can be made central to the study of the early-modern period.
For more information or to book a place visit: http://www.cems.ox.ac.uk/selden/#. There are some bursaries for graduate students.