Cultures of Knowledge

Cultures of Knowledge: Networking the Republic of Letters, 1550-1750

Established in 2009, we are a collaborative, interdisciplinary research project based at the University of Oxford with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. We are using digital methods to reassemble and interpret the correspondence networks of the early modern period.


cultures of knowledge
Research Aims

Bringing together experts in history, philosophy, science, and literature with librarians, archivists, and systems developers, Cultures of Knowledge is transforming engagement with early modern letters across three interconnected strands of activity:

  • EMLO: Early Modern Letters Online is our growing union catalogue of correspondence from the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. Developing EMLO is at the heart of what we do.
  • Pilot Projects: Two case studies focusing on the epistolary networks of Samuel Hartlib and Jan Amos Comenius are supplying EMLO with research questions and fresh data, and vetting its digital solutions.
  • Events: A rich programme of seminars, workshops, conferences, and focus groups is informing EMLO’s ongoing development and embedding it within a community of potential users and contributors.

Our partners and data contributors are of central importance at Cultures of Knowledge: we are a resource as much for them as for those who search our catalogues. EMLO is less a possessive entity and more as an open platform that scholars, research projects, archives, and libraries can use to collate, store, and publish (and eventually analyse and visualise) their epistolary data. 

The ultimate objective of Cultures of Knowledge is to use the intellectual networks and epistolary cultures as a means of connecting transnational interdisciplinary research across the broad field of early modern intellectual history. The ultimate goal for EMLO is to facilitate this as a resource; to create a platform for radically multilateral scholarly collaboration — a ‘scholarly social machine’ — that will furnish an entire community of scholars and repositories with the means of piecing back together the millions of scholarly letters scattered across and beyond the continent of Europe.


This project is administered by:

Staff involved from within the History Faculty:

The Following people from outside the History Faculty also collaborate with us:

+ other current members of the CofK Steering Committee