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Library and Laboratory: Trans-Atlantic Histories of Early Modern Science

Semester and Year FA 2018
Course Number IDSEM-UG1876
Section 001
Instructor Donna Bilak
Days F
Time 2:00 PM - 4:45 PM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   SCI, EARLY



The term “science” stems from the Latin word “scientia,” which means knowledge and skill. In the early modern period this implied the synthesis of mind and hand, extending to the library and laboratory as linked epistemic spaces wherein texts, materials, and instruments intersected. This seminar explores modes of investigation into the natural world through the interface of these spaces in British North America and Continental Europe during the 17th century. We will investigate the connectivity of intellectual space and physical research in early modern knowledge production, asking how book collecting, note-taking, and experimental practices contributed to the production of scientific knowledge. What were the networks of knowledge and materials of early modern science, and who had access to them? How homogenous was scientific practice between Europe and America? How did pharmaceutical, medico-alchemical, and artisanal spheres contribute to the development of what we recognize as science? Readings may Biringuccio, Cellini, Agricola, Quiccheberg, Michael Maier, Francis Bacon, Robert Hooke, John Evelyn, Robert Boyle. There will be a class trip to the New York Academy of Medicine rare book collection.


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Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)