Difference between revisions of "NEH Summer Institute: Experience and Experiment in Early Modern Europe (seminar)"

 
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For more past programming from the [[Folger Institute]], please see the article [[Folger Institute scholarly programs archive]].  
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Directed by [[Pamela O. Long|'''Pamela O. Long''']]''',''' senior research fellow at the Dibner institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and [[Pamela H. Smith|'''Pamela H. Smith,''']] Associate Professor in the Department of History at Pomona College, Claremont and Director of European Studies at Claremont Graduate University
 
+
   
This was a summer 2001 seminar lead by [[Pamela O. Long]] and [[Pamela H. Smith]] from 25 June to 3 August 2001.
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June 25 through August 3, 2001
 
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[[File:ART_Vol._f81_no.2.jpg|thumb|459x459px|left|[http://luna.folger.edu/luna/servlet/s/l6w23h Source Call No. ART Vol. f81 no.2]: Lapis polaris, magnes [graphic] / Ioan. Stradanus inuent]]  
The institute opened up a wide-ranging investigation of the different understandings and contexts of experience in the early modern period. Changing views of experience affected many areas, including the conceptualization of human psychology and the human soul; artisanal knowledge; alchemical and neo-Platonic approaches to the material world; views of the body both as a subject of anatomy and as a source of agency; the nature and role of the five senses; techniques of visual representation; and new experimental methodologies. The institute gathered a distinguished visiting faculty and sixteen college teachers from across the country-each with their own expertises and perspectives-to examine a number of practices in these areas, including painting, architecture, cartography, alchemy, medicine, mechanics, and literature. It investigated the increasing significance that technical knowledge came to have in social and economic configurations such as court culture, urban culture, and the marketplace. It paid particular attention to the habits of mind-the "material understanding"-of the craftsperson out of which was shaped a new empirical "method of philosophizing" and a new way of viewing nature.
+
This [[NEH_Summer_Institute_for_college_and_university_faculty|NEH Summer Institute for College and University Faculty]] opened up a wide-ranging investigation of the different understandings and contexts of experience in the early modern period. Changing views of experience affected many areas, including the conceptualization of human psychology and the human soul; artisanal knowledge; alchemical and neo-Platonic approaches to the material world; views of the body both as a subject of anatomy and as a source of agency; the nature and role of the five senses; techniques of visual representation; and new experimental methodologies. The institute gathered a distinguished visiting faculty and sixteen college teachers from across the country-each with their own expertises and perspectives-to examine a number of practices in these areas, including painting, architecture, cartography, alchemy, medicine, mechanics, and literature. It investigated the increasing significance that technical knowledge came to have in social and economic configurations such as court culture, urban culture, and the marketplace. It paid particular attention to the habits of mind-the "material understanding"-of the craftsperson out of which was shaped a new empirical "method of philosophizing" and a new way of viewing nature.
 
 
[http://www.folger.edu/html/folger_institute/experience/experiment_intro.htm Institute Website]
 
 
 
'''Directors:''' [[Pamela O. Long]] is an independent scholar who in 2000-2001 was a senior fellow at the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology at MIT. Her recent publications include ''Technology, Culture, and Society in Late Medieval and Renaissance Europe, 1300-1600'' (Washington: American Historical Association, 2001) and ''Openness, Secrecy, Authorship: Technical Arts and the Culture of Knowledge from Antiquity to the Renaissance'' (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001), which won the Morris D. Forkosch Prize, awarded by the Journal of the History of Ideas for the best book in intellectual history published in 2001. 
 
 
 
[[Pamela H. Smith]] is the Seth Low Professor of History at Columbia University and the author of books on alchemy, artisans, and the making of knowledge. Recent ones include ''The Body of the Artisan: Art and Experience in the Scientific Revolution'' (2004) and ''Ways of Making and Knowing: The Material Culture of Empirical Knowledge'' (with Amy R. W. Meyers and Harold C. Cook, 2014). Her present research reconstructs the vernacular knowledge of early modern European miners and metalworkers.
 
 
 
'''Experience and Experiment in Early Modern Europe'''
 
 
 
Some of the most basic assumptions about the nature of the world and our means of experiencing it changed fundamentally in the early modem period. This institute's study is shaped by the most crucial result: a transformation of natural philosophy grounded in Aristotelian common experience--or experience everyone would agree upon without need for investigation into an experimental philosophy based on a central role for instrumentation and specialized material techniques used in the validation of knowledge claims.  
 
  
 +
Some of the most basic assumptions about the nature of the world and our means of experiencing it changed fundamentally in the early modem period. This institute's study is shaped by the most crucial result: a transformation of natural philosophy grounded in Aristotelian common experience--or experience everyone would agree upon without need for investigation into an experimental philosophy based on a central role for instrumentation and specialized material techniques used in the validation of knowledge claims.
 +
[[File:157-_096q.jpg|thumb|496x496px|right|[http://luna.folger.edu/luna/servlet/s/tkz21l Source Call No. 157- 096q]: A bloody Irish almanack]] 
 
But because experience remains such a touchstone of knowledge in our modem world, we readily believe that it is a stable and transhistorical-indeed a universal-phenomena: an empathetic way back into the mindsets of the past. This institute seeks first to trouble those easy assumptions about the nature of experience and then to open up a wide ranging and carefully nuanced investigation of different strands and shifting understandings of experience in the early modem period. These understandings include a new orientation towards experimentalism in the seventeenth century. The institute will gather historians of science, cultural historians, art historians, philosophers, anthropologists, sociologists, literary critics, and historians of technology for this work. It will draw upon and consolidate some of the exciting research that is currently being done in each of these disciplines (by our contributors among others). With cross-, inter-, and counter-disciplinary conversations, it will undertake a comparative investigation of key issues and texts that inform our understandings of the transformations of experience and the uses of experimentation in diverse fields. It will analyze at what points and in what ways experiment comes to function as proof in a wide variety of local circumstances. As a result, it will help reshape a common body of knowledge about the radical change in the nature of experience in the early modern period, a change that traditionally has been signaled by the term"scientific revolution."
 
But because experience remains such a touchstone of knowledge in our modem world, we readily believe that it is a stable and transhistorical-indeed a universal-phenomena: an empathetic way back into the mindsets of the past. This institute seeks first to trouble those easy assumptions about the nature of experience and then to open up a wide ranging and carefully nuanced investigation of different strands and shifting understandings of experience in the early modem period. These understandings include a new orientation towards experimentalism in the seventeenth century. The institute will gather historians of science, cultural historians, art historians, philosophers, anthropologists, sociologists, literary critics, and historians of technology for this work. It will draw upon and consolidate some of the exciting research that is currently being done in each of these disciplines (by our contributors among others). With cross-, inter-, and counter-disciplinary conversations, it will undertake a comparative investigation of key issues and texts that inform our understandings of the transformations of experience and the uses of experimentation in diverse fields. It will analyze at what points and in what ways experiment comes to function as proof in a wide variety of local circumstances. As a result, it will help reshape a common body of knowledge about the radical change in the nature of experience in the early modern period, a change that traditionally has been signaled by the term"scientific revolution."
  
'''Proposed Schedule and Faculty'''
 
 
The principal focus of the institute's meetings will be on selected primary texts of the period, read in such a way as to highlight the multiple conversations and contexts into which they were written. Participants will be encouraged to raise issues of audience, transmission, translation, and the nature of evidence-the foundations of the symbolic actions texts perform in their social settings. Participants will be further encouraged to explore the collections in the mornings and to make those explorations the bases of their own presentations to the group.
 
 
The institute will meet Monday through Thursday afternoons (with the exception of the week of 4 July). The average week will feature discussion with directors, faculty, and participants taking the lead at various times. Participants will also work collaboratively to incorporate new technologies into their own teaching. On a weekly basis, they will explore a range of digital resources, discussing how to structure assignments and how to provide students with strategies to make the best use of such resources. They will compile and evaluate a cumulative list of web sites that offer texts and images of primary sources. They will also collectively assemble and annotate a set of images of primary sources that they have consulted at the Folger Library. Together with the institute's syllabus and bibliographies, these will be the components of a multifaceted web posting.
 
 
'''Week I (25-29 June)'''
 
 
'''The Textures of Experience'''
 
 
Visiting Faculty: John Sutton (Lecturer of Philosophy, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia)
 
 
'''Week 2 (2-6 July)'''
 
 
'''Vernacular Epistemologies'''
 
 
Visiting Faculty: Mary Fissell, Associate Professor of the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology at the Johns Hopkins University, and Gail Kern Paster, Professor of English at George Washington University
 
 
'''Week 3 (9-13 July)'''
 
 
'''Mechanical Arts, Natural Philosophy, and Visual Representation'''
 
 
Visiting Faculty: David Summers, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of the History of Art at the University of Virginia
 
 
'''Week 4 (16-20 July)'''
 
 
'''Disciplining Experience'''
 
 
Visiting Faculty: Chandra Mukerji (Professor of Communications, Sociology, and Science Studies at the University of Califomia, San Diego) and Jim Bennett (Keeper of the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford)
 
 
'''Week 5 (23-27 July)'''
 
 
'''Objects of Art/Objects of Nature'''
 
 
Visiting Faculty: Paula Findlen (Director of the Science, Technology and Society Program, and Professor of History at Stanford University)
 
 
'''Week 6 (30 July-3 August)'''
 
 
'''Experience and Experiment in the Scientific Revolution'''
 
 
Visiting Faculty: Peter Dear (Professor of History and of Science & Technology Studies at Cornell University) and Adrian Johns (Professor of Sociology at the California institute of Technology)
 
 
'''Faculty and Weekly Schedule'''
 
 
'''Week 1 (25---29 June): The Textures of Experience'''
 
 
Visiting Faculty: John Sutton (Lecturer of Philosophy, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia)
 
 
In the first week, we will introduce a range of different kinds of experience and the
 
 
formative impact on them of various knowledge traditions. We will ask how the
 
 
conceptualization of experience is related to human perception, reason, and the acquisition of
 
 
knowledge. We begin with close readings of texts that give us a basis for understanding both traditional concepts of human experience and the revisions of those concepts that the institute will
 
 
investigate in ensuing weeks. With these readings, we establish a framework of select models for
 
 
further development and analysis. We will read Aristotle's De Anima (On the Soul) in which the
 
 
powers of the soul are described, including the place of the senses and of thinking, and the
 
 
relationships between them. We will read several shorter works from Aristotle's Parva Naturalis,
 
 
including his Sense and Sensibilia and On Dreams. We then move to several specific contexts of
 
 
knowledge and experience in the fifteenth century, reading parts of The Commentaries of Aeneus
 
 
Sy/vius Piccolamini, della Porta's Natural Magic, and Ficino's De Vila, considering the
 
 
relationship of body, soul, and experience. Such texts shed light on views of the human psyche
 
 
and the ways in which nature is experienced. The secondary sources for the week will help us
 
 
formulate generative questions. For instance, we will consult the influential work of Lorraine
 
 
Daston and Katharine Park on attitudes of wonder toward phenomena in the world and the
 
 
changes in such attitudes over time. Are things in nature perceived as marvellous or as instances
 
 
of order and regularity? Finally, we will read Descartes' Treatise on Man. John Sutton, who will
 
 
be this week's visitor, has extensively investigated the relationship of philosophy to structures of
 
 
cognition, especially in Descartes. He will help the seminar link issues ofthe senses and the
 
 
organic soul with the history of physiological psychology as he explores the ways views of the
 
 
natural world are affected by such structures.
 
 
Week 2 (2~ July): Vernacular Epistemologies
 
 
Visiting Faculty: Mary FisseIl, Associate Professor of the History of Science. Medicine, and
 
 
Technology at the Johns Hopkins University, and Gail Kern Paster, Professor of English at
 
 
George Washington University
 
 
Here we consider the ways in which everyday experience was conceived by ordinary
 
 
kinds of people, including millers, artisans, and other non·elites. We will also look at the
 
 
representations of that experience in drama on the English stage. Our readings wi ll include such
 
 
texts as Ginzburg's The Cheese and the Worms, which concerns the heresy trial of Menocchio, a
 
 
miller, together with the actual documents of his trial. We will also study the world of the artisan
 
 
as described in the goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini's Autobiography. A medical treatise of
 
 
Paracelsus's offers an opportunity to understand the ways in which this immensely interesting
 
 
figure related experience and healing. We will consider Professor Smith's argument that
 
 
Paracelsus articulated an "artisanal science of matter," and that by reading his texts alongside
 
 
artisanal objects and treatises, we gain insight not only into this science of matter, but into what
 
 
Mary Fissell calls a vernacular epistemology, in which nature and experience are primary,
 
 
knowledge is active; knowing is doing, and matter is alive. With Professor Gail Kern Paster, we
 
 
will tum to other views of the experience ofthe body, including bodies understood as operating
 
 
on principles of Galenic humoralism and the resulting subjective experience of being. in.the.body.
 
 
Our investigations of bodily experiences will include Francis Bacon's Sylva Sylvarum and at least
 
 
one of plays such as The Alchemist, The Family of Love, or The Wise· woman of Hogsdon. Finally
 
 
we will look at AriMo/Ie 's Masterpiece, and other popular health texts that were printed in
 
 
numerous editions and forms in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and which were
 
 
significantly directed toward women. These diverse sources serve as a basis for a comparative
 
 
consideration of the vernacular epistemologies under investigation. Participants will look
 
 
particularly at the ways in which lay people experienced their own bodies and the ways in which
 
 
female bodies, in particular, were constructed by women as well as men. These diverse sources
 
 
allow us to move from artisanal contexts to issues of popular health and healing. With their
 
 
extensive studies of primary source materials, Professors Fissel! and Paster will significantly
 
 
expand the scope of materials of investigation beyond the canonical texts and traditions treated in
 
 
the first week.
 
 
Week 3 (9-13 July): Mechanical Arts, Natural Philosophy. and Visual Representation
 
 
Visiting Faculty: David Summers, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of the History of Art at the
 
 
University of Virginia
 
 
This week we focus on one particular sensory experience, vision, to examine the complex
 
 
and resonant cultural revisions of vision in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. We will ask
 
 
about the changing status of visual representation and the mechanical arts. Recent scholarship in
 
 
the histories of astronomy, art, and anatomy has produced fascinating new insights. David
 
 
Summers, who has extensively investigated sixteenth~century art theory and the relationships
 
 
between vision and judgement, will join the group for this week. With him, participants will
 
 
compare recent research in these diverse fields. A study of optics and artists' perspective will
 
 
involve us in a consideration of the fundamentally significant changes in the role of visual
 
 
representation in this era. Painting was considered a "mechanical art" at the beginning of the
 
 
fifteenth century while at the end of the period it had become in some quarters a higher status
 
 
liberal art, partly as a result of writings such as Alberti's On Painting. in part by using
 
 
perspective to depict machines and other apparatus, books about engineering and machines
 
 
proliferated beginning with manuscript books such as Mariano Taccola's De Machinis and the
 
 
writings of Francesco di Giorgio and Leonardo da Vinci. We will investigate aspects of
 
 
Leonardo's treatise on mechanics, Madrid Codex J, as well as his writings on painting and
 
 
anatomy. One focus will be on how the "natural" and the "mechanical" came to be interrelated
 
 
and the ways in which observational experience, visual representation, and knowledge about the
 
 
world were closely linked in the work of Leonardo and other sixteenth-century figures . The
 
 
relationships among visual representation, the natural, and the mechanical will be explored
 
 
further in the writings ofVesalius and Ambroise Pare. The theme of the transition from
 
 
mechanical arts to mechanics will be introduced. At the same time, changing perceptions of
 
 
visual representations and the significance of sight and its relationship to reason and to the
 
 
understanding of the natural world will be explored.
 
 
Week 4 (16---20 July): Disciplining Experience
 
  
Visiting Faculty: Chandra Mukerji (Professor of Communications, Sociology, and Science
+
 +
<u><br>'''Materials and Products'''</u>
  
Studies at the University of Cali fomi a, San Diego) and Jim Bennett (Keeper of the Museum of
+
The syllabus is available [[Media:Syllabus.pdf|here]].
  
the History of Science in Oxford)
+
While the website is no longer supported, it has been archived: [https://web.archive.org/web/20100528013253/http://www.folger.edu/html/folger_institute/experience/experiment_intro.htm Institute Website: Experience and Experiment in Early Modern Europe]
  
In this week we will shift perspective to look more closely at the way disciplines frame
+
A PDF of the[[Media:NEHSI2001Website.pdf| website's pages]] with the participants' interpretive essays.
  
experience. We will take case studies from several specific disciplines-including alchemy,
+
A PDF of the original [[Media:2001NEHSI.pdf|promotional flyer]].
  
cartography, and surveying-to think about the influences that social, political, and economic
 
  
forces exert in a variety of settings. We then ask again what difference this makes to the practice
 
  
and definition of the discipline itself. Chandra Mukerji will guide participants in their study of the
+
[[File:B3998.jpg|thumb|547x547px|left|[http://luna.folger.edu/luna/servlet/s/osdtic Source Call No. B3998]: New experiments physico-mechanicall, touching the spring of the air …]] 
 +
'''<u>Participants</u>'''
  
many uses of cartography. She brings the methodology of an anthropologist to her work on
+
(All affiliations are as of the program's date)
  
gardens, landscapes, cartography, and surveying-and their relationships to power-in early
+
'''Antonio Barrera,''' Assistant Professor of History at Colgate University
  
modem France. The extensive holdings of the Library of Congress's Geography and Mapping
+
'''Eric A. G. Binnie,''' Associate Professor of Theatre Arts at Hendrix College
  
Division (including an extensive web posting project) will supplement the substantial materials at
+
'''Galen Brokaw,''' Assistant Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York
  
the Folger. Also in this week, participants will look at the way disciplines are linked in oblique
+
'''Regina Buccola,''' Assistant Professor of English Literature at Roosevelt University
  
ways by their tools and instruments. With Jim Bennett, they will examine the circumstances and
+
'''Colin Dickson,''' Professor of French at Washington College
  
ways in which instrument making itself may become a site of knowledge. Bennett's work on the
+
'''Donald Grabner,''' OSB, Teacher of Theology at Conception Seminary College
  
London workshops of instrument makers has shown, for instance, that as the learned customers
+
'''Jeremiah Hackett''', Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina
  
visited workshops to place orders and request maintenance, the instrument makers came to
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'''Michael Harrawood''', Assistant Professor of English at Florida Atlantic College
  
assume significant roles in those knowledge communities. We may also visit the American
+
'''Helen Hattab,''' Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Southern Illinois University
  
History Museum for a close viewing of their collection of early modern instruments.
+
'''Martha Hoffman-Strock''', Assistant Professor of History at Texas Christian University
  
Week 5 (23-27 July): Objects of Art/Objects of Nature
+
'''Bruce Janecek''', Assistant Professor of History at North Central College
  
Visiting Faculty: Paula Findlen (Director of the Science, Technology and Society Program, and
+
'''Harry Kitsikopoulos,''' Assistant Professor of Economics at New York University
  
Professor of History at Stanford University)
+
'''Eric Leonidas''', Assistant Professor of English at Central Connecticut State University
  
In ancient times, theoretical knowledge about the world and practical knowledge about
+
'''Pamela Lieske''', Assistant Professor of English at Kent State University, Trumbull
  
construction were separate and usually unrelated entities. Made objects were not considered
+
'''James W. McManus, '''Professor of Art History at California State University, Chico
  
particularly useful in explicating knowledge, in part because of the separation between the
+
'''Steven A. Walton,''' Assistant Professor of the History of Science at Michigan Technological University
  
artificial and the natural. This week, participants will study the ways this separation came to be
 
  
undennined in the early modem period. We will look at evidence that points to an increasing
 
  
closeness of objects of nature and of art around 1500. For instance, Albrecht DUrer's diary of his
 
  
trip to the Netherlands reveals a collapsing of the two categories of nature and artifact in his
+
'''<u>Faculty</u>'''
  
collection. The great Kunstkammern that developed in the seventeenth century also often mingled
+
(All affiliations are as of the program's date)
  
such objects. Paula Findlen, an expert on collecting in early modem Italy, will invite participants
+
'''J.A. Bennett''', Director of the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford University
  
to consider collections as sites of knowledge and to consider, too, their epistemological
+
'''Peter Dear,''' Professor of History, Cornell University
 +
[[File:STC_11883_copy_1.jpg|thumb|727x727px|right|[http://luna.folger.edu/luna/servlet/s/g3cy17 Source Call No. STC 11883 copy 1]: William Gilbert. Guilielmi Gilberti Colcestrensis…]] 
 +
'''Paula Findlen''', Professor of History, Stanford University
  
significance and cultural meanings. The significance of objects can be seen in other ways, as well.
+
'''Mary Fissell,''' Professor of the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Johns Hopkins University
  
In some cases, the work of fabrication came to be seen as revealing of the natural world. Francis
+
'''Beth Holman''', Associate Professor at the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture
  
Bacon's influential writings put forward a methodology for the investigation of the natural world
+
'''Adrian Johns,''' Associate Professor of the History of Science, University of Chicago
  
which utilized the mechanical and constructive arts. Participants will read the Novum Organum
+
'''Chandra Mukerji,''' Professor of Communications, University of California, San Diego
  
for the way he makes this relationship explicit. They will ask what implications this proximity
+
'''Gail Kern Paster''', Professor of English, George Washington University
  
between art and nature holds for experience and experimental investigation.
+
'''David Summers,''' Professor of Art, University of Virginia
  
Week 6 (30 July-3 August): Experience and Experiment in the Scientific Revolution
+
'''John Sutton''', Professor of Philosophy, Macquarie University 
  
Visiting Faculty: Peter Dear (Professor of History and of Science & Technology Studies at
 
  
Cornell University) and Adrian Johns (Professor of Sociology at Cal Tech)
 
  
The institute concludes with a study of the broad epistemological conflicts that developed
+
'''<u>Website Production</u>'''
  
in the seventeenth century over the concepts of experience and experiment. These conflicts
+
'''Martha Fay,''' Designer
  
threatened the dominant Aristotelian sense of common experience-that which was instantly
+
'''Julie Ainsworth,''' Folger Shakespeare Library photographer
  
recognized by all and therefore required no demonstration (e.g., if you drop a brick it will fall
+
'''Pamela O. Long''' and '''Pamela H. Smith''', Advisory Editors
  
downwards). The new experimental philosophers argued instead that particular experiments,
+
'''Kathleen Lynch''', Editor
  
often using complex apparatus that could be constructed and manipulated only by experts, were
+
'''Owen Williams''', Managing Editor
  
required to validate claims about the natural world. Yet "experiment" meant different things to
+
'''Lisa Meyers,''' Research Assistant
  
different philosophers in the seventeenth century. Participants will analyse the role of experiment
+
'''Brian Shetler,''' Editorial Assistant
  
in Bacon's New Atlantis and will compare accounts of experimentation by Blaise Pascal, Robert
+
'''Andrew Baird,''' Editorial Assistant
  
Boyle, and Isaac Newton. Adrian Johns will remind participants of the need to situate what we
+
'''<u>Folger Institute Staff</u>'''
  
know about experimental communities in the context of print culture. Peter Dear will also
+
'''Barbara Mowat,''' Chair
  
emphasize the need for a cultural history of communication; he will provide, too, a reminder of
+
'''Kathleen Lynch,''' Executive Director
  
other networks of communication, including extensive correspondence that exists among
+
'''Owen Williams,''' Program Administrator
  
experimental philosophers and mathematicians. Perhaps most importantly, he will encourage
+
'''Carol Brobeck,''' Program Coordinator
  
participants to analyse in detail the differences in the ways experiment is utilized and
+
'''Lisa Meyers,''' Program Assistant
  
conceptualized even within relatively well defined learned communities.
+
'''Brian Shetler,''' Intern
  
[[Category: Folger Institute]]
+
[[Category: Folger Institute]][[Category: Scholarly programs]][[Category:National Endowment for the Humanities]][[Category: Program archive]][[Category: Seminar]][[Category: 15th century]][[Category: 16th century]][[Category: 17th century]]
[[Category: Scholarly programs]]
 
[[Category: Program archive]]
 
[[Category: 2001-2002]]
 

Latest revision as of 15:33, 4 August 2017

Directed by Pamela O. Long, senior research fellow at the Dibner institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Pamela H. Smith, Associate Professor in the Department of History at Pomona College, Claremont and Director of European Studies at Claremont Graduate University

June 25 through August 3, 2001

Source Call No. ART Vol. f81 no.2: Lapis polaris, magnes [graphic] / Ioan. Stradanus inuent

This NEH Summer Institute for College and University Faculty opened up a wide-ranging investigation of the different understandings and contexts of experience in the early modern period. Changing views of experience affected many areas, including the conceptualization of human psychology and the human soul; artisanal knowledge; alchemical and neo-Platonic approaches to the material world; views of the body both as a subject of anatomy and as a source of agency; the nature and role of the five senses; techniques of visual representation; and new experimental methodologies. The institute gathered a distinguished visiting faculty and sixteen college teachers from across the country-each with their own expertises and perspectives-to examine a number of practices in these areas, including painting, architecture, cartography, alchemy, medicine, mechanics, and literature. It investigated the increasing significance that technical knowledge came to have in social and economic configurations such as court culture, urban culture, and the marketplace. It paid particular attention to the habits of mind-the "material understanding"-of the craftsperson out of which was shaped a new empirical "method of philosophizing" and a new way of viewing nature.

Some of the most basic assumptions about the nature of the world and our means of experiencing it changed fundamentally in the early modem period. This institute's study is shaped by the most crucial result: a transformation of natural philosophy grounded in Aristotelian common experience--or experience everyone would agree upon without need for investigation into an experimental philosophy based on a central role for instrumentation and specialized material techniques used in the validation of knowledge claims.

Source Call No. 157- 096q: A bloody Irish almanack

But because experience remains such a touchstone of knowledge in our modem world, we readily believe that it is a stable and transhistorical-indeed a universal-phenomena: an empathetic way back into the mindsets of the past. This institute seeks first to trouble those easy assumptions about the nature of experience and then to open up a wide ranging and carefully nuanced investigation of different strands and shifting understandings of experience in the early modem period. These understandings include a new orientation towards experimentalism in the seventeenth century. The institute will gather historians of science, cultural historians, art historians, philosophers, anthropologists, sociologists, literary critics, and historians of technology for this work. It will draw upon and consolidate some of the exciting research that is currently being done in each of these disciplines (by our contributors among others). With cross-, inter-, and counter-disciplinary conversations, it will undertake a comparative investigation of key issues and texts that inform our understandings of the transformations of experience and the uses of experimentation in diverse fields. It will analyze at what points and in what ways experiment comes to function as proof in a wide variety of local circumstances. As a result, it will help reshape a common body of knowledge about the radical change in the nature of experience in the early modern period, a change that traditionally has been signaled by the term"scientific revolution."



Materials and Products

The syllabus is available here.

While the website is no longer supported, it has been archived: Institute Website: Experience and Experiment in Early Modern Europe

A PDF of the website's pages with the participants' interpretive essays.

A PDF of the original promotional flyer.


Source Call No. B3998: New experiments physico-mechanicall, touching the spring of the air …

Participants

(All affiliations are as of the program's date)

Antonio Barrera, Assistant Professor of History at Colgate University

Eric A. G. Binnie, Associate Professor of Theatre Arts at Hendrix College

Galen Brokaw, Assistant Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York

Regina Buccola, Assistant Professor of English Literature at Roosevelt University

Colin Dickson, Professor of French at Washington College

Donald Grabner, OSB, Teacher of Theology at Conception Seminary College

Jeremiah Hackett, Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina

Michael Harrawood, Assistant Professor of English at Florida Atlantic College

Helen Hattab, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Southern Illinois University

Martha Hoffman-Strock, Assistant Professor of History at Texas Christian University

Bruce Janecek, Assistant Professor of History at North Central College

Harry Kitsikopoulos, Assistant Professor of Economics at New York University

Eric Leonidas, Assistant Professor of English at Central Connecticut State University

Pamela Lieske, Assistant Professor of English at Kent State University, Trumbull

James W. McManus, Professor of Art History at California State University, Chico

Steven A. Walton, Assistant Professor of the History of Science at Michigan Technological University



Faculty

(All affiliations are as of the program's date)

J.A. Bennett, Director of the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford University

Peter Dear, Professor of History, Cornell University

Source Call No. STC 11883 copy 1: William Gilbert. Guilielmi Gilberti Colcestrensis…

Paula Findlen, Professor of History, Stanford University

Mary Fissell, Professor of the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Johns Hopkins University

Beth Holman, Associate Professor at the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture

Adrian Johns, Associate Professor of the History of Science, University of Chicago

Chandra Mukerji, Professor of Communications, University of California, San Diego

Gail Kern Paster, Professor of English, George Washington University

David Summers, Professor of Art, University of Virginia

John Sutton, Professor of Philosophy, Macquarie University 


Website Production

Martha Fay, Designer

Julie Ainsworth, Folger Shakespeare Library photographer

Pamela O. Long and Pamela H. Smith, Advisory Editors

Kathleen Lynch, Editor

Owen Williams, Managing Editor

Lisa Meyers, Research Assistant

Brian Shetler, Editorial Assistant

Andrew Baird, Editorial Assistant

Folger Institute Staff

Barbara Mowat, Chair

Kathleen Lynch, Executive Director

Owen Williams, Program Administrator

Carol Brobeck, Program Coordinator

Lisa Meyers, Program Assistant

Brian Shetler, Intern