Teaching and research
One of the tasks of the Scaliger professor is to promote teaching and research relating to the Special Collections held by the University library. Kwakkel succeeds Professor Harm Beukers, who has held the chair since 2007.
Kwakkel is a book historian and a specialist in the development of medieval manuscripts. He has worked since 2010 as a researcher and lecturer at the Faculty of Humanities, where he is a pioneer in the field of Digital Humanities. He has a long list of publications and has worked at diverse international research institutions. In 2014 he delivered the Lowe Lectures at Corpus Christi College Oxford. Kwakkel is well known in the Netherlands and internationally as a promotor of ancient books, disseminating his knowledge via traditional and social media, public lectures and popular scientific publications. He is a member of the Young Academy of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and of the Comité International de Paléographie Latine.
An important theme for Kwakkel's activities as Scaliger professor is the concept of connections. This relates not only to connections between the original makers and the many generations of users of the objects in the Leiden collections, but also connections between the different academic disciplines in which the objects are studied. The concept of connections also stresses the important task of the Scaliger professor in actively bringing the collections to a growing public of interested people within and outside the university world.
The Scaliger Institute was set up in 2000 to promote teaching and research on the Special Collections held at Leiden University. Since its inception, all kinds of initiatives have been developed, including symposia, masterclasses, special lecture series and fellowships. The insitute takes its name from Josephus Justus Scaliger (1540-1609), the best known Leiden academic in the early years of the university. Scaliger was also a patron of the University Library.