Twenty years ago, historians complained that the art of excerpting was still a marginal topic. Ten years later, Ann Blair said that the history of note-taking had only just begun to be written. Indeed, historians spent nearly 25 years investigating how note-taking and excerpting Systems developed in early modern Europe, and how great an influence they had on knowledge management and production in a society that gradually adapted to the mentality of printing. In the absence of an interdisciplinary book combining historical evidence with theoretical reasoning, this article aims at sketching out how early modern Italian culture took part in the debate on what we call the art of excerpting and note-taking (trascegliere e notare). The main hypothesis is that, within a century of the invention of the printing press, the notebook lost its function of memory aid and became a secondary memory. This functional change implied a loosening of the rhetorical structure of learning and experimentation with a new form of knowledge production, based on recombination. As a result, scholars discarded the culture of repetition and began to look for novelty. This produced a type of hypertrophy of variety: note-taking and excerpting techniques were understood as a way not only to avoid an excess of variety but also to produce substantially more variety than before. Knowledge was thus stored as a kind of “fine Capital” (Muratori) in view of an open future. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, scholars regarded such capitalisation as a question of “good taste”.

The Art of trascegliere e notare in Early Modern Italian Culture / Cevolini, Alberto. - In: INTELLECTUAL HISTORY REVIEW. - ISSN 1749-6977. - STAMPA. - 31:4(2020), pp. 519-540. [10.1080/17496977.2020.1791518]

The Art of trascegliere e notare in Early Modern Italian Culture

CEVOLINI, Alberto
2020

Abstract

Twenty years ago, historians complained that the art of excerpting was still a marginal topic. Ten years later, Ann Blair said that the history of note-taking had only just begun to be written. Indeed, historians spent nearly 25 years investigating how note-taking and excerpting Systems developed in early modern Europe, and how great an influence they had on knowledge management and production in a society that gradually adapted to the mentality of printing. In the absence of an interdisciplinary book combining historical evidence with theoretical reasoning, this article aims at sketching out how early modern Italian culture took part in the debate on what we call the art of excerpting and note-taking (trascegliere e notare). The main hypothesis is that, within a century of the invention of the printing press, the notebook lost its function of memory aid and became a secondary memory. This functional change implied a loosening of the rhetorical structure of learning and experimentation with a new form of knowledge production, based on recombination. As a result, scholars discarded the culture of repetition and began to look for novelty. This produced a type of hypertrophy of variety: note-taking and excerpting techniques were understood as a way not only to avoid an excess of variety but also to produce substantially more variety than before. Knowledge was thus stored as a kind of “fine Capital” (Muratori) in view of an open future. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, scholars regarded such capitalisation as a question of “good taste”.
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The Art of trascegliere e notare in Early Modern Italian Culture / Cevolini, Alberto. - In: INTELLECTUAL HISTORY REVIEW. - ISSN 1749-6977. - STAMPA. - 31:4(2020), pp. 519-540. [10.1080/17496977.2020.1791518]
Cevolini, Alberto
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11380/1207909
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