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Tim Berndtsson started his PhD project, on Freemasonic Archives in the 18th-century, in June 2014. Earlier he has made studies in the relation between Swedish and Danish historiography during the eighteenth century, as well as the use of incongruent levels of style in modern Swedish poetry. He holds Bachelor’s degrees in Literary studies and Rhetoric, and a Master’s degree in Literary studies. His research interests include: 18th-century culture, Archives, Historiography, Freemasons, Theory of Humour, Modern Poetry, Ludvig Holberg.
Work in Progress
The Order and the Archive. Freemasonic Archival Culture in 18th century Europe. (prel. title)
Dissertation project on the archives of the Freemason order. Read more at end of page.
Chapters in Anthologies
“Bringing Into Light, or Increasing Darkness With Darkness. Jacob Wilde’s Rewriting of Samuel Pufendorf’s Account of Swedish Ancient History” in Traces of Transnational Relations in the Eighteenth Century, ed. Tim Berndtsson, Annie Mattson, Mathias Persson, Vera Sundin and Marie-Christine Skuncke, Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2015, pp. 121–146.
”’Hvad Contra-parten har at sige derimod’ – Historiografisk dialog mellan Holberg och Pufendorf” in Historikeren Ludvig Holberg red. Jørgen Magnus Sejerstedt & Sebastian Olden-Jørgensen, Oslo: Spartacus/Nordic Academic Press, 2014, pp. 147–180.
"'Du måste försöka leva dig in i min situation!' Ironi humor och det patetiska hos Kristina Lugn" in Samlaren. Tidskrift för svensk Litteraturvetenskap, vol. 137., 2016, pp. 31–56.
With: Otto Fischer, Annie Matsson och Ann Öhrberg, ”Kunskap, makt, materialitet: Svenska arkiv 1727–1811 – en projektpresentation” in Tidskrift för Litteraturvetenskap Vol 45, Nr 1 (2015)
Recension ”Kristina Nordström: Det sanna snillet. Genus och geni hos Thomas Thorild” i Tidskrift för Litteraturvetenskap Vol 45, Nr 2–3 (2015), pp. 111–113.
Work in Progress – Read more
My ongoing dissertation project is entitled “The Order and the Archive. Freemasonic Archival Culture in 18th century Europe”. It is written within the frame of the project “Knowledge, Power and Materiality. Archives in Sweden 1727–1811” (founded by the Swedish Science Council) and concerns the role and functions of European Freemason archives during the eighteenth century and the establishment of a masonic archival culture.
The masonic lodges were one of the first organisations, outside the domains of the state, the church and the family, which kept large institutional archives. Although Freemasonry appeared in a “public sphere”, it also was distinctly “non-public” in the present every-day sense of the word. The masonic lodge’s peculiar characteristic of being simultaneously “open” and “closed”, have its simile in a general function of the early modern archive: it presents information to some, while it withheld it from others. A study of masonic archives also becomes a question about the symbolical force that the notion of “secret archives” presents.
Theoretically, my project is based in a process-oriented understanding of archives and archiving, to which I also add ideas from systems theory. The masonic archives in my study are not only viewed as more or less dusty paper storehouses. They are also regarded as central functions in discourse networks. Archives enable and formalises several practices for establishing, keeping and distributing information and knowledge – from accounting to cabbalistic manuals. The archive – or rather: the “idea” of an archive – revolves around operations of introducing and maintaining order upon different artefacts in order to give them status of documents.
By investigating actual archives and studying their historical organisation – as well as their systematic mode of operation – the threads of which “history” is weaved becomes visible. The internal organisational structure of archives may sheds light on how historical narratives are formed, such as the “history of Freemasonry”; a narrative telling of an ancient brotherhood, which makes its arcane knowledge accessible to through ritual initiation. I argue that the content of the archive also becomes formed through such histories, which the archive as a historiographical tool is supposed to substantiate. The need to tell of certain things in certain ways gives raise to particular archives, which in their turn, allows certain kind of communicational acts to take place (for instance, the verifying of a “historical truth” by reference to an old Latin manuscript).
The archive was (and is) a fundamental infrastructure in almost all organisations. But the masons also had a particular passion for ordering as such. Keeping papers in orders was not only a secondary effect of the sociable practice of masonry, but an integral part the society purposes. Aside from being an indispensable tool for the administration, the archives for instance filled a function in a cult of memory – in the form of e.g. funeral orations and the writing of order history – which was cultivated within masonry. I argue that there is a connection between these forms of practices and behaviour. Archival practices were instrumental in creating a particular form of “masonic” knowledge. Thus, I want to describe not only how masons made their archives but also how archiving made masons.
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