[EAS]Augustine & Scholarship

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Wed Jun 11 15:56:43 EDT 2003

Subject:   Augustine & Scholarship

My comments follow below.  --PJK

(from The Scout Report -- May 30, 2003)

Augustine of Hippo

Augustine of Hippo is arguably one of the most scholarly saints. As
one of the most important Western philosophers, Augustine is often
noted for his wrestling with the ideas of the Manicheans and
eventually for his conversion to Christianity. Born in what is now
modern-day Algeria, Augustine spent a good deal of his life as an
administrator in northern Africa and left a voluminous body of
writings. These include the two works most familiar to the public,
"Confessions" and "The City of God Against the Pagans." Visitors to
this site, developed by Professor James O'Donnell (now the provost
of Georgetown University), will find a number of Augustine's most
important works (in a number of translations) here, along with
critical commentaries and research materials of note. For anyone
interested in the substantial philosophical and theological musings
of Augustine, this site will prove to be most enlightening.

New-Model Scholarship: How Will it Survive? [pdf]

This important 55-page report originated out of meeting held in 2002
by the Council on Library and Information Resources that brought
together scholars, librarians, archivists, publishers, and other
concerned parties to discuss the preservation of digital scholarly
resources. Authored by Abby Smith (March 2003), this timely work is
informed by these discussions, and offers some initial appraisals of
the challenges that libraries face as they attempt to ensure
long-term access to the "new-model scholarship" that is predicated
around access to various digital archives and projects. The paper
primarily explores these new types of emerging scholarship,
including those that are open-ended, experimental,
software-intensive, and multimedia in nature. Continuing on how
libraries might best take on the role of managing these scholarly
resources, the work looks at several potential modes of operation,
such as the enterprise and community-based models. Thorough in its
scope, this paper will be of great interest to those working on
digital archive projects, and colleagues working in ancillary fields
and organizations.

The longer title of this email would have been "Augustine and the
Survival of Scholarship.' Thus I send you these items as reflections
on information technology and its practitioners in different ages.

As I learned from Jim O'Donnell's delightful little book "Avatars of
the Word: From Papyrus to Cyberspace" (Harvard Univ. Press, 2000),
all of Augustine's five million words (written around 400-430 AD in
Latin on vellum, i.e. animal skin) have survived. That he was
luckily already part of the era of the "book" is one reason. (Much
material was lost in the only partial transcription from papyrus to
But in large measure his works survived because late in life he had
the foresight to publish a complete catalog of his works, so that
future scholars and copyists would know what to look for. Thus as
scholarship now goes through its great transformation from book to
electronic technologies, it is good to think again of what might
survive another 1600 years, and why.

   --PJK (aka Peter J Kindlmann)

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