Stockholm university

Linn HolmbergResearcher

About me

During the academic year 2023–2024 I will be a Visiting Fellow at CRASSH and Clare Hall in Cambridge, UK.

I am a researcher and teacher in History of Ideas at the Department of Culture and Aesthetics at Stockholm University, and a Pro Futura Scientia XIV fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS). 

        I earned my PhD in History of Science and Ideas at Umeå University in 2014. My dissertation, The Forgotten Encyclopedia: the Maurists’ Dictionary of Arts, Crafts and Sciences, the Unrealized Rival of the Encyclopédie of Diderot and d’Alembert, received the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History, and Antiquities’ award for prize-worthy dissertation in 2015 as well as Johan Nordström’s and Sten Lindroth’s prize for scholarly excellence in 2016. It was later published as The Maurists’ Unfinished Encyclopedia (2017) by the Voltaire Foundation, in the ”Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment” series. 

        Between 2015 and 2016, I was a research fellow at the Institute for Housing and Urban Research at Uppsala University. I began working at Stockholm University in 2016, first as a postdoctoral researcher in Cultural History, thereafter as a researcher and teacher in History of Ideas. In 2019, I was nominated and admitted to the Pro Futura Scientia programme, a cutting-edge research programme for promising early-career scholars in the humanities and social sciences. 



I am teaching on all levels of the undergraduate and graduate courses in History of Ideas, from antiquity to the French Revolution. The courses that I have taught at Stockholm University concern, among other things, the Enlightenment, the History of Knowledge, Cultural History, and the methodology of source studies. I am currently supervising two PhD students. 



My research is broadly concerned with knowledge management in early modern Europe (c. 1450–1800), with an emphasis on alphabetically-organized reference-works, Enlightenment culture, and processes of transmitting, popularizing, and democratizing knowledge in the long eighteenth century. I am particularly interested in how new media like dictionaries and periodicals contributed to changing behaviors, attitudes, and emotions relating to knowledge, know-how, and learning. 

        My research projects are typically characterized by interdisciplinary, transnational, and critical historiographical perspectives, merging aspects of the History of Ideas, Book History, Cultural History, Conceptual History, and History of Knowledge. In terms of sources, I mostly work with dictionaries and encyclopedias of all kinds and in several languages, as well as with learned journals and newspapers (from the 1660s onwards). I also have a long experience of working with unfinished and unpublished manuscripts, which has cultivated a deep interest in texts as material artefacts, whose history of compilation can be reconstructed based on material clues. In several studies, I have moreover argued that such “stranded”, unfinished, and unpublished texts can provide new and important insights into the history of learning and literature. 

        Keywords: Alphabetically-ordered reference works, dictionaries, encyclopedias, knowledge management, Enlightenment culture, popularization and democratization of knowledge, book history, cultural history, history of knowledge, early modern Europe, the long eighteenth century, transnational history, history of monasticism, microhistory, history of emotions, unfinished texts, texts as artefacts, textual materiality.


Current Research Project

My current project, titled Dictionary Craze: Transforming Knowledge across Early Modern Europe, explores the process when the alphabetically-organized reference work was established on European book markets, and the intellectual, practical, and emotional consequences that followed in its trail. Long before the rise of smartphones and social media, how did dictionaries contribute to reshaping the ways knowledge was communicated, consumed, and conceptualized – and by whom? And how did contemporaries react to these processes? 

         The project combines a transnational perspective with a long chronology (c. 1450–1800). It also draws on a rich and diverse body of sources: published dictionaries, unfinished manuscripts, and debates about dictionaries in learned journals, published in six countries (France, England, Holland, the German states, Sweden, and Denmark). In doing so, the project examines how dictionaries first became considered as a new and curious phenomenon, whose raising popularity was met with fears as well as hope – praised by some as revolutionary ‘short-cuts’ to knowledge, feared by others as ‘weapons in the hands of fools’. 

        The project is part of the Pro Futura Scientia programme at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, financed by the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (Riksbankens Jubileumsfond). 


Select Publications

2022. Linn Holmberg, Staffan Bergwik & Karin Dirke (eds.), Konsten att kontextualisera: om historisk förståelse och meningsskapande (Stockholm: Stockholm University Press).

2022. Linn Holmberg, "Att kontextualisera som student", i Konsten att kontextualisera, 21–42.

2021. Linn Holmberg & Maria Simonsen (eds.), Stranded Encyclopedias, 1700–2000: Exploring Unfinished, Unpublished, Unsuccessful Encyclopedic Projects (London: Palgrave Macmillan).

2021. L. Holmberg, ”Why Study Stranded Encyclopedias?”, in Stranded Encyclopedias, 1700–2000, 3–34.

2021. L. Holmberg, “Stranded Encyclopedias in Eighteenth-Century Sweden: Exploring the Rise of Alphabetical Encyclopedism”, in Stranded Encyclopedias, 1700–2000, 99–135.

2020. L. Holmberg & Staffan Bergwik, “Standing on whose Shoulders?: A Critical Comment on the History of Knowledge”, in Forms of Knowledge: Developing the History of Knowledge. red. Johan Östling, David Larsson Heidenblad, & Anna Nilsson Hammar (Lund: Nordic Academic Press), 283–299.

2020. L. Holmberg, “Encyklopedisten: Striden om Upplysningen”, in Historiska typer, ed. Peter Josephson & Leif Ruenfelt (Vilnius: Gidlunds), 99–120.

2017. L. Holmberg & AnnaSara Hammar, “Varför mikrohistoria? Om teckentydningens dragningskraft och historievetenskaplig transparens”, Historisk tidskrift 137:3, 437–447.

2017. L. Holmberg, The Maurists’ Unfinished Encyclopedia, Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation).

2016. L. Holmberg, ”Texten som artefakt: historisk rekonstruktion och det kreativa fältarbetet’, in Humanister i fält: metoder och möjligheter, ed. Åsa Arping, Christer Ekholm & Katarina Leppänen (Göteborg: LIR.skrifter), 49–57.

2014.  L. Holmberg, The Forgotten Encyclopedia: The Maurists’ Dictionary of Arts, Crafts, and Sciences, the Unrealized Rival of the Encyclopédie of Diderot and d’Alembert (Umeå: Umeå universitet).

2014. L. Holmberg, “Traquer les lettres absentes: stratégies pour retrouver des sources afin de reconstruire l’histoire d’une oeuvre inconnue des mauristes’, in La correspondance: le mythe de l’individu dévoilé?, ed. Philippe Martin (Leuven: Presses universitaires de Louvain), 101–112.

2013. L. Holmberg, “The Unknown Rival of the Encyclopédie: the Maurists’ Abandoned Dictionary of Arts, Crafts, and Sciences”, Frühneuzeit-Info 24, 81–89.

2013. L. Holmberg, “Att återupptäcka handskrifters tysta öden: En forskarberättelse om arkivets roll i produktionen av historisk kunskap”, Lychnos, 107–128.