Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Pieter Jakob Cosijn’s Correspondence and Scholarly Collaboration at the End of the Nineteenth Century

Pieter Jakob Cosijn (1840-1899) was Leiden University’s first Professor of Germanic and AngloSaxon Philology. A recognised expert in the field of Old English grammar and textual criticism, Cosijn corresponded with various prominent philologists and experts in his field, including Julius Zupitza, Arthur Napier, Henry Sweet and Eduard Sievers.

2016 - 2017
Thijs Porck

These letters reveal a collaborative attitude among these philologists: they asked each other for opinions, criticized each other’s publications, debated various points of textual criticism of Old English poetry and pitched possible etymologies for long-lost words. It was not all business, however: they also asked each other for autographed pictures and made arrangements to meet up in person. This correspondence thus provides a unique insight into scholarly collaboration at the end of the nineteenth century, as well as the evolution of the scholarly study of Old Germanic languages and the role played by a prominent Dutch scholar in this field. Since Cosijn’s correspondence has only rarely been studied, this project aims to catalogue, analyse and edit a selection from over a hundred letters (preserved in the Special Collections of Leiden University Library) between Cosijn and his scholarly colleagues.

The research trainees will first make an inventory of the letters available in the Leiden University Library. They will then select two or three scholars whose correspondence with Cosijn they will edit and analyse. Their research will result in at least one collaborative journal article, as well as two conference papers, to be presented at a planned conference on scholarly correspondence in July 2017. This research trainee project ties in well with Dr Porck’s current research project “My former Germanicist me”: G. J. P. J. Bolland as an amateur Old Germanicist (funded by LUF/Bolland fonds), which includes an edition of Cosijn’s correspondence with his former student G. J. P. J. Bolland, to be published in 2017 in collaboration with the Huygens/ ING institute.

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