Epistemic hierarchies and historical actors: Reframing Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples

Book chapter
Change log
Lundberg, Christa 

This essay explores how a history of knowledge focused on identifying structures—such as hierarchies, systems, and cartographies—squares with the study of individual knowers. One way of bringing these together, I suggest, is to consider epistemic hierarchies from the individual viewpoint. I test this approach on Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples (c.1460–1536) by investigating his relationship to the epistemic hierarchies of early sixteenth-century Paris. I argue that Lefèvre disagreed with the dominant epistemic model in this environment, the curriculum of the University of Paris, and challenged it in his own teaching, philosophical writings, and editorial work. Lefèvre thus played a curatorial function in relation to epistemic hierarchies, subtly reshaping them in the way he selected and presented texts. I conclude that studying ‘curators of knowledge’—a category that can comprise actors from librarians to teachers and healthcare workers—adds a useful complementary perspective to large-scale cartographic projects in the history of knowledge.

history of knowledge, Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples, University of Paris, epistemic hierarchies, humanism
Is Part Of
Knowledge Actors: Revisiting Agency in the History of Knowledge