- Region(s): France; Europe
- Time Period(s): 16th century; 17th century
- Theme(s): intellectual history; history of the book; history of reading; history of scholarship; history of science
Ann Blair is Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor at Harvard University, where she specializes in the cultural and intellectual history of early modern Europe (16th-17th centuries), with an emphasis on France. Her interests include the history of the book and of reading, the history of the disciplines and of scholarship, and the history of interactions between science and religion.
Blair is the author of The Theater of Nature: Jean Bodin and Renaissance Science (Princeton UP, 1997), and Too Much To Know: managing scholarly information before the modern age (Yale UP, 2010). She has co-edited, with Jennifer Milligan, Toward a Cultural History of Archives, a special issue of Archival Science (2007) and, with Richard Yeo, Note-Taking in Early Modern Europe, a special issue of Intellectual History Review (2010). She and Leah Price also organized two conferences at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study: Why Books in 2010 and Take Note 2012. Blair's research focuses on methods of intellectual work among scholars and authors ca. 1500-1700 which she also compares with those of other times and places. She has studied for example methods of reading and note-taking as taught in humanist schools, and practices of composing and using reference works and finding devices. In March 2014 Blair delivered the Rosenbach Lectures in Bibliography at the University of Pennsylvania on the role of amanuenses and the various mostly hidden helpers who worked with authors and scholars in early modern Europe. She is currently completing a book on this topic. In 2016 and 2017 she published a series of articles on Conrad Gessner and the role that printing played in his research notably in bibliography and natural history.
She is grateful to have received fellowships and awards from many sources including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the MacArthur Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the Guggenheim Foundation. She has served as Director of Undergraduate Studies and was awarded a Harvard College Professorship in 2009 in recognition of her dedication to undergraduate teaching and, in 2014, the Everett Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.