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Donna Bilak

Part-time Faculty
(212) 998-7350
1 Wash Pl, Room 410

Office Hours
Monday Remote by Appointment
Tuesday Remote by Appointment
Wednesday Remote by Appointment
Thursday Remote by Appointment
Friday Remote by Appointment

Advanced Diploma, Jewellery Arts, George Brown College of Applied Arts and Technology, 1994
M.A., History, York University, 2003
M.Phil., Cultural History, Bard Graduate Center, 2008
Ph.D., Cultural History, Bard Graduate Center, 2014

Donna Bilak is a historian of early modern science specializing in the study of 17th-century emblematics; medico-alchemical laboratory technologies, materials, and sensory experiences; and the production and trade of chemical medicine in the British Atlantic world. Donna's research extends to the cross-cultural examination of jewellery, artisanal technologies, and meaning-making with materials. Donna's first book is the born-digital publication, Furnace and Fugue: A Digital Edition of Michael Maier's Atalanta fugiens (1618) with Scholarly Commentary, co-authored with Tara Nummedal (Brown University), developed by Brown University’s Mellon-supported Digital Publications Initiative, and published by the University of Virginia Press (2020) as an open-access edition: Furnace and Fugue builds on Donna's earlier postdoctoral research into Atalanta fugiens, a musical alchemical emblem book, in presenting a multi-disciplinary collaboration involving historians of science and of art, musicologists and performers, digital scholars, and rare books curators. Donna received her PhD from the Bard Graduate Center, and she is the Creative Director of 12 Keys Consultancy & Design, LLC



Furnace and Fugue Book

Donna Bilak, along with Tara Nummedal, co-edited the book Furnace and Fugue: A Digital Edition of Michael Maier's Atalanta fugiens (1618).

Teaching and Research Interests

history of early modern science and alchemy; emblematics; jewelry history and craft technology; cultural heritage

Recent News


Donna Bilak is the director of Gold & Mercury: Amalgamated Histories in Chemistry, Culture and Environment, a collaborative research project that examines how the metals have worked their way through cultures, environments, and bodies.  


Donna Bilak and Ivo Purš were invited to speak virtually at “Artifex in opere: Michael Maier’s self-representation in Atalanta fugiens (1618)” as part of “De re vestiaria. Antiquity and Fashion” in the Renaissance Palazzo Mocenigo–Centro Studi di Storia del Tessuto e del Costume in May 2021.

Bilak served as a virtual panelist at “Out of the Ivy and into the Arctic: Pedagogy and Reconstruction in Cross-Cultural Contexts” at “Making and Knowing II: Teaching through Reconstruction Outside the Academy,” the 2021 annual meeting of the Renaissance Society of America held virtually in April.

Bilak and Loren Ludwig gave “Sonic Emblems & Magic Squares: Atalanta fugiens and Ludic Humanism in the 21st Century,” a virtual seminar hosted at the University of Oxford Centre for the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology in November of 2020.

Bilak, Loren Ludwig, and Tara Nummedal spoke virtually at the “Work in Progress Seminar: Tear Up Your Books”: Michael Maier’s Atalanta fugiens in the 21st Century” at The Warburg Institute at the University of London in October 2020.

Donna Bilak