Jennifer Nelson

Library Fellow
2013-2014
Jennifer Nelson

A rare books and special collections librarian, Jennifer Nelson (The Robbins Collection, Berkeley Law) is interested in exploring the impact that editing and publishing decisions have on the intellectual reception of a text. Marcus Porcius Cato and Marcus Terentius Varro are two ancient Roman authors who treated the subject of agriculture. Although Cato’s De agri cultura was written a century before Varro’s first-century BCE De re rustica, and in very different social and historical contexts, the convention of publishing these works together in a single volume “on agriculture” has existed since the earliest extant manuscript and printed editions. In her project, "Companion Planting: The Publication History of Varro’s De re rustica and Its Interpretive Implications," Nelson tests the hypothesis that publishing conventions have influenced modern readers’ interpretations of Varro, which erroneously assume that Varro, like Cato, is concerned primarily with technical farming advice.