Ann Blair is the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History at Harvard, where she focuses on the intellectual and cultural history of early modern Europe, with special interests in book history, the historical relations between science and religion, and French history. She is most recently the author of Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age (Yale University Press, 2010), and her current research examines methods of working (reading, writing, and note-taking) among scholars and authors from 1500 to 1650.
At Radcliffe, Blair is studying the role of helpers in the intellectual work of humanist scholars and early modern authors. Despite representations and self-representations to the contrary, scholars and authors regularly relied on others, including servants, family members, and students, to perform tasks which were considered more or less mechanical—from taking dictation and making clean copies to indexing, taking notes, or drafting texts. She seeks to elucidate the social and intellectual dynamics of these hierarchical yet close working relationships and the complex practices of assigning thanks, blame, and authorial credit in manuscript and in print.
Blair earned her bachelor’s at Harvard University, her master’s at the University of Cambridge, and her doctorate at Princeton University. She has received grants from the Bunting Institute, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Science Foundation. In March 2014, she delivered the A.S.W. Rosenbach Lectures in Bibliography at the University of Pennsylvania.