Crossroads of Knowledge: the Republic of Letters and the First Globalization (17th-18th centuries)

Drawing on the combined expertise of faculty and graduate students in the humanities at UC Berkeley and the University of Strasbourg, the project studies the "crossroads of knowledge" (carrefours des savoirs) that connected the Republic of Letters in the age of the first globalization. Moving away from the traditional focus on capital cities, we turn our attention to smaller "contact zones," such as ports and frontier towns that enabled the circulation knowledge across linguistic, cultural and religious barriers.

Probability and Meaning

Our objective is to foster collaborative work between UC Berkeley and the Institut Jean-Nicod through two joint workshops, one in Berkeley, one in Paris. The workshops will be centered on the discussion of the increasing role that probabilistic modeling is taking in our understanding of linguistic meaning. Researchers at both institutions have been centrally interested in different aspects of this topic, and we think it would be fruitful to pool our thinking on complementary issues.

Infinity: history, philosophy, mathematics

The project aims at making novel and far-reaching contributions to some of the most central areas of contemporary philosophy of mathematics and philosophy of probability as they relate to infinity. The envisaged results include, among other things, decisive contributions to: the history of our conceptions of infinity; neo-logicism in philosophy of mathematics; the nature of abstraction principles as infinitary principles yielding finitistic results; alternative conceptions of probability; the concept of extension; the sources of our knowledge of counting and probabilistic reasoning.

The function and historical evolution of augments in the Bantu languages

This project aims at gaining insight into the augment, a mysterious grammatical element found in the Bantu languages of Africa. The role of the augment has been compared to that of a definite article in English or French, but this comparison is at best an approximation. We will approach the topic from the different theoretical and methodological perspectives of synchronic generative grammar and historical linguistics. 

Translation of Poetry: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

In recent years scholars of the humanities and social sciences have become increasingly interested in the process of translation. Long thought a “step child” of humanistic study—something humanists did in the margins of their other work—it has now become clear that both the practice and the theory of translation are central to the role of the humanities as we move into an increasingly multi-cultural global culture, and as new technologies reshape how we use language.

Sound Waves: Virginia Woolf's Resonance

Our project brings together French and American scholars of Virginia Woolf to explore the resonance of her work across the boundaries of language, history, medium, and nation. We join the current surge of critical interest in what are often called "sound studies" and that Woolf called the "waves in the mind” that reverberate below the frequencies of semantic specificity. In addition to deepening our understanding of Woolf's "auditory imagination" (a phrase we borrow from her friend T.S.

Algebraic language and the algorithm: Art of thinking, thinking machines, and machines' thinking

The pervasiveness and relative invisibility of algorithms in our social and scientific life raise urgent questions and reveal new challenges. Our project aims to investigate current technological and social transformations from the privileged point of view of a long-term historical perspective, which traces the trajectory of automation and quantification back to the development of algebra and algebraic thinking during the European Renaissance.

Tabac/Chatbot: Education and Interaction in the Museum Exhibition

This collaborative project is an experiment in the design and use of a digital application in order to extend the educational mission of a museum exhibition in France. Anne Lafont, Directrice d'études, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and doctoral candidate Maxime Georges Métraux (Université Paris-Sorbonne) are currently organizing an exhibition at the Musée du Nouveau Monde in La Rochelle (2019) dedicated to the visual culture of tobacco during the French Enlightenment. Professor Todd P. Olson and Ph.D.

Everyday writing in a literary town: Some rediscovered tablets from late antique Panopolis

Professors Fournet and Hickey are interested in the culture and society of an ancient town called Panopolis (modern Akhmim, about a 500km drive south of Cairo). In Late Antiquity (c. 300‒700 CE), Panopolis was a “city of letters” second only to Alexandria, and many of the works produced by its authors have been preserved. The documentation illuminating the socio-economic structures that nurtured these individuals, in contrast, is rather poor.