DISCUSSION SERIES ‘TALKING ABOUT THINGS’ #3 – A FOCUS ON MATERIALITY: MATERIAL CULTURE AND HISTORIES OF SCIENCE
On 23rd October 2020, 11:00-12:30 – Sala del Torrino, Villa Salviati, Florence / Zoom.
Meet & Discuss Session
For the third session of the “Talking about things” seminar series, we will look into the use of objects and images as sources to explore the history of science. For this session, organized jointly with the History of Science Working Group, presentations by two of our EUI researchers will be followed by a discussion.
“Knowing and doing or knowing by doing? Mining practitioners, surveying methods, and the visual and material sources of the earth-based sciences (XV-XVII centuries)”, by Gabriele Marcon (HEC)
Scholars devoted to the study of mining knowledge analyze the formalization of mining operations and their visual representation embedded in Georg Agricola’s De Re Metallica (1556) in order to understand the practical knowledge of mining experts in the early modern period. However, looking at different sources (such as reports and court cases) shows that understanding the practices of craftsmen and artisans through scholars’ theories might be misleading. This presentation aims to investigate the role of visual and material sources in reproducing knowledge in the early modern period. I will analyse to what extent local and foreign mine surveyors drew on Agricola’s work when prospecting for ore deposits and measuring the length of the mines in two sixteenth-century Tuscan mining districts.
“L’économie de la matière: science, economy and environment in Hellot’s notes”, by Lisa Coulardot (HEC)
Jean Hellot (1685-1766) is primarily known as a chemist and member of the Paris Académie des sciences. Designated as an expert of various activities including dyeing, minting, and mining, he also held missions for prominent French economic institutions of the time. In this paper, I propose to go beyond a focus on institutions, and enter the realm of the fabrication of knowledge, through the study of Hellot’s notebooks, in which he compiled an impressive amount of information related to many different topics like dyeing, medicine, metallurgy, minting, agriculture, fireworks, chrysopoeia, cosmetics, porcelain, pigments, textile, glazes, and tanning but also bodies and cooking. Hellot’s (al)chemical philosophy, taken in a broad sense as an inquiry on matter and its transformation, constitutes for the present-day historian a means of understanding not only scientific practices but also 18th century economic philosophy and ecological perceptions.
This session will take place in sala del Torrino of villa Salviati (Florence). We also offer the possibility for those who cannot come in person to join us via Zoom. If you wish to attend, whether in person or virtually, please register by contacting Ana Struillou, Matthias Ebejer or Moïra Dato.