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Dr Mirte Liebregts

PhD candidate


Area(s) of interest: History of Books, History of Knowledge, Ancient History

How ‘to make the beauty and learning, the philosophy and the wit of the great writers of ancient Greece and Rome once more accessible’: a history of the Loeb Classical Library

Radboud University Nijmegen
Promotor(es): Dr Helleke van den Braber, Prof. dr. Marchen De Pourcq, Prof. dr. André Lardinois
Aanstelling: vanaf september 2017

This project explores the persistent tension between classical scholarship and the democratisation of the classics in the twentieth century, by studying the history and development of the international book series that tried to bridge this gap: the Loeb Classical Library (LCL). Although classical scholars tend to take the worldwide presence and the constancy of this bilingual series for granted, I intend to uncover the LCL’s contingent history by investigating the social circumstances and cultural practices that have shaped the series, and to show its cultural importance for making ancient literature available to the mass market on an unprecedented scale.
The study involves the examination of unpublished archival material, the paratexts and contents of individual LCL volumes, and the series’ reception in journals and magazines. The historical period under investigation (1911-1973) will be divided into three phases, with emphases on the LCL’s early stages, the period after the series’ bequest to Harvard University in 1933, and the years after the Second World War. I will explore the relationship between the series’ multiple stakeholders; and the ways in which the publishers of this series positioned themselves in the market, in order to lay bare the complex relations of power, competition, and cooperation in which cultural institutions such as the LCL are situated. In this way, my research aims to attain a better understanding of the affairs underlying scholarly publications and of the
on-going process of the democratisation of the classics.