WELCOME TO THE ERASMUS CENTER FOR EARLY MODERN STUDIES
The Erasmus Center for Early Modern Studies is a joint initiative by Erasmus University Rotterdam and Rotterdam Public Library. It aims to foster communication between the public and academia, university and city, the past and the present, and between Erasmus, his books, and his readers.
Center of Excellence
The Erasmus Center for Early Modern Studies amasses the expertise on the early modern era possessed by the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication, the Faculty of Philosophy, and the Erasmus School of Law. The subject of enquiry is the way in which between c. 1450 and c. 1750 — from Erasmus to Bayle — individual, community, and government in the Netherlands and Europe evolved, and how their relations to one another were viewed. A particular area of concentration is the development of the ideas, opinions, and theories of prominent persons, and their influence on shifting outlooks on the public and private domains. By consolidating such scholarship, the Erasmus Center is boosting research on the early modern period conducted by leading international scholars at the EUR. The Erasmus Center is thus giving greater international exposure to such research and the teaching based on it.
The Erasmus Center seeks out international cooperation for its research activities. Such cooperation takes the form of periodic conferences, which give rise to English-language publications on its research program.
The Erasmus Center also organizes its own monthly research seminar at which an expert speaks on a theme relating to the early modern age. Speakers to date include Jonathan Israel (Princeton), Istvan Hont (Cambridge), Heinz Schilling (Humboldt), Glenn Burgess (Hull), and Steven Nadler (Madison).
The Erasmus Collection
Rotterdam Public Library’s Erasmus Collection is one of the largest in the world. It not only includes works by Erasmus himself and his text editions and translations of ancient writers, but also a great deal of literature about Erasmus. Approximately thirty percent of works in the collection date from Erasmus’s lifetime (1466–1536), while about ninety works are first editions. Letters in Erasmus’s own hand also form part of the collection. The Erasmus Collection is an indispensable resource for the edition of Erasmus’s Opera Omnia, which is currently being published by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).
Aside from these Erasmus treasures Rotterdam Public Library has a large collection of books published before 1800 that are not directly related to Erasmus, but nevertheless could well be a valuable resource for study. These special collections together form an essential component of the Netherlands’ heritage.
Citizen of the World
The Erasmus Center for Early Modern Studies develops and coordinates activities that are necessary for the preservation and use of this rich cultural heritage. This includes restoring the old books that are part of it. The preservation of the book collection is, after all, a "conditio sine qua non" for the continuity of academic studies in the field.
No less important is the fact that the resources in question are being made more accessible. Not an end in itself, they must actually be used. To this end the Erasmus Center is digitizing its resources. It has also published its own World Catalogue of Early-Modern Erasmus Editions on this website, under the name Erasmus Online. This database contains a wealth of information about all Erasmiana published in the early-modern period. It includes bibliographical descriptions, facsimiles, references, and present locations. Complete with many illustrations of title pages and fifteen fully digitized works by Erasmus plus the collected works editions of 1538-1540 (Basel) and 1703-1706 (Leiden), this treasure trove is freely available to anyone who wishes to avail themselves of it. The Erasmus Center’s online initiative is therefore in the spirit of Erasmus’s words "Ciuis mundi sum", i.e. "I am a citizen of the world".
Although setting its sights on the entire world, the Erasmus Center for Early Modern Studies nevertheless maintains a focus on all of Rotterdam as well. After all, it is the city of Erasmus’s birth, and he quite consciously chose to identify himself with it. Furthermore, the city of Rotterdam today — perhaps even more so than during Erasmus’s life — places an emphasis on education, culture, and scholarship. Rotterdam Public Library is also an institution — belonging to and for the use of Rotterdammers — whose aim is to deploy its assets and expertise for the benefit of every single citizen. Thus the Erasmus Center directs its energy at everyone who is interested in the age spanning Erasmus and Bayle in all its various facets. The Center wants to play an active part in the current debate on relations between individual, community, and government; between morality, politics, and administration; about the involvement of citizens in society; and about Erasmian thought. This it does by organizing presentations, exhibitions, and lectures, and by issuing publications for a general readership.
- Prof. Dr. Dick Douwes, Dean of the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication, EUR
- Mr. Elie Dutilh, LLM, Erasmus Foundation Rotterdam
- Mr. Coen Baron Schimmelpenninck van der Oije, MA (Erasmus Center fEMS Foundation)
- Mrs. Irene Schuiten, Manager of Information, Collection & Catalogue, Rotterdam Public Library
- Mr. Gert Staal, MA, Director of Rotterdam Public Library
- Prof. Dr. Wiep van Bunge, Faculty of Philosophy, EUR
- Dr. Adrie van der Laan, Secretary to the Erasmus Center & Curator of Rotterdam Public Library’s Rare Books Reading Room (Erasmuszaal)
- Prof. Dr. Robert von Friedeburg, Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication, EUR
- Prof. Dr. Laurens Winkel, Erasmus School of Law, EUR