Temptation in the archives
For the early modern archival scholar, collections of documents in libraries and records offices promise a rich store of clues and confirmations to support their historical researches.
The question is, how do we assess such evidence, and responsibly integrate it into the broader historical account? The temptation is particularly to value the colourful anecdote or surprising tidbits of information, as they are set alongside more familiar resources from manuscript and printed sources. In this lecture I will tell some of those tempting stories, and try to assess their real importance and significance.
Lisa Jardine CBE is Professor of Renaissance Studies at University College London and Director of the UCL Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in the Humanities, and the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters. She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and an Honorary Fellow of King's College, Cambridge and Jesus College, Cambridge. She holds honorary doctorates of Letters from the University of St Andrews, Sheffield Hallam University and the Open University, and an honorary doctorate of Science from the University of Aberdeen.
She was a Trustee of the V&A Museum for eight years, and was for five years a member of the Council of the Royal Institution in London. She is Patron of the Archives & Records Association and the Orange Prize. For the academic year 2007-8 she was seconded to the Royal Society in London as Expert Advisor to its Collections.
Since 2008 she has served as Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority – the UK government regulator for assisted reproduction. In December 2011 she was appointed a Director of The National Archives. In November 2011 she was appointed an Honorary Bencher of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple. In 2013-14 she will serve as President of the British Science Association, which in 2012 made her an Honorary Fellow.
Lisa Jardine has published over fifty scholarly articles in refereed journals and books, and seventeen full-length books, both for an academic and for a general readership, a number of them in co-authorship with others. She is the author of several best-selling general books, including Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance, Ingenious Pursuits: Building the Scientific Revolution, and biographies of Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke. Her book on Anglo-Dutch reciprocal influence in the seventeenth century, entitled Going Dutch: How England Plundered Holland's Glory, published by HarperCollins UK in 2008 and HarperCollins USA in 2009 won the prestigious Cundill International Prize in History.
Professor Jardine writes and reviews widely for the media, and has presented and appears regularly on arts, history and current affairs programmes for TV and radio. She is a regular writer and presenter of 'A point of view', on BBC Radio 4: a book of the first two series of her talks was published by Preface Publishing in March 2008 and a second in 2009. She judged the 1996 Whitbread Prize for fiction, the 1999 Guardian First Book Award, the 2000 Orwell Prize and was Chair of Judges for the 1997 Orange Prize and the 2002 Man Booker Prize.
During the first semester of the 2008/9 academic year Professor Jardine was Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences, jointly sponsored by NIAS and the Royal Library in The Hague (the KB). In 2009/10 she was a Scaliger Visiting Fellow at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands, and held the Sarton Chair and received the Sarton Medal at the University of Ghent, Belgium. She sits on the prestigious Apeldoorn British Dutch Conference Steering Board.