Call for Papers: Cultural Production of Natural Knowledge

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on September 28, 2010

The Cultural Production of Natural Knowledge, 1700-1850
Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick, 30 October 2010

Paper proposals due by 29 September 2010

This one-day interdisciplinary workshop seeks to understand the cultural and aesthetic frameworks within which medical and scientific knowledge was created, represented and communicated in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. We aim to place these within the contexts of the wider global circulation of people, texts and things, and the expanding market for medical knowledge and scientific objects. We envisage that the workshop will focus on the following themes, but we invite speakers to interpret these flexibly. First, we wish to discuss the cultural discourses surrounding the collection and collation of new facts from the field. Questions that might be discussed could include: Who acted as intermediaries in the transmission of information, and how did they do so? What factors influenced the extent to which informants’ contributions were included, or excluded, by the travellers who collected new knowledge? How did these processes of collection and inscription relate to those that took place in the metropole, where texts were edited and streamlined for publication, objects were marshalled into museum collections, and paintings were produced and displayed? What was the relationship between natural knowledge and place / space, and how did this relate to contemporary aesthetic theory?

Second, we aim to relate these cultural contexts to the production and consumption of texts, collections and visual representations. Who read these texts or studied collections, and how did they relate to them? How were scientific and medical ideas created and disseminated in literary texts, epistolary culture, travel writings, works of art, and other cultural productions? What were the points of intersection between aesthetic discourse and medical and scientific knowledge? Bringing together scholars of literature, history and art history, this workshop will discuss the cultural production of knowledge, texts, and visual representations of natural knowledge.

We invite papers of 20-25 mins in length. Please send proposals (300 words) to: Emily Senior, E.F.Senior@Warwick.ac.uk and Sarah Easterby-Smith, Sarah.Easterby-Smith@alumni.Warwick.ac.uk. The deadline for proposals is Wednesday 29 September 2010.

Emily Senior and Sarah Easterby-Smith
University of Warwick
Email: e.f.senior@warwick.ac.uk
Visit the website at http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/history/emforum/confworks/naturalknowledge/

The Royal Society Turns 350 in November!

Posted in anniversaries, exhibitions by Editor on September 28, 2010

On now at the National Portrait Gallery:

Science, Religion and Politics: The Royal Society
National Portrait Gallery, London, 11 September — 5 December 2010

Sir Godfrey Kneller, "Portrait of Sir Christopher Wren," 1711 © National Portrait Gallery, London.

Marking the 350th anniversary of the foundation of the Royal Society, this display celebrates a key moment in the development of modern science. The Society was founded on 28 November 1660 when a dozen men gathered to hear the young Christopher Wren give a lecture on astronomy. In the discussion that followed they decided to form ‘a Colledge for the Promoting of Physico-Mathematicall Experimentall Learning’. They rejected the classical ideal that knowledge could be acquired through contemplation alone. Instead, they drew on the ‘new philosophy’ devised by Sir Francis Bacon to pursue knowledge through first hand observation, data collection and experimentation. This revolutionary approach to investigating the world laid the foundations for three and a half centuries of scientific discovery and innovation. The display features key figures in the early history of the Royal Society including Sir Christopher Wren, Robert Boyle, Samuel Pepys and Sir Isaac Newton. The Royal Society has generously loaned two important early portraits from its collection.

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