This project focuses on a little-known phenomenon that characterized knowledge production in early modern Europe (c. 1550–c. 1650). Alongside universities and academies, which followed established programs more or less consistent with political, religious, and social orders, the age was marked by a flourishing of scholarly associations that had in common a non-institutionalized production of knowledge. This was a bottom-up knowledge, promoted by students and young scholars outside the academic circle and, more importantly, it was the result of both self-managed learning activities and collective effort among peers. Although the traces of these intellectual experiences are only contained in fragmentary manuscript sources and their key players were minor figures, nevertheless they may be understood as crucial indicators of the features of an era, helping to grasp a comprehensive picture of it.Through a selection of case studies, the project will explore the purposes of such unconventional academies and their contribution to the history of intellectual thought, shedding some light on a significant historical moment for the formation of European identity.