Online Talk | Adrian Johns and Jason Dean on Historia Coelestis (1712)

Posted in lectures (to attend), online learning by Editor on November 4, 2022

From the series website:

Adrian Johns and Jason Dean, After Hours with Historia Coelestis (1712)
Zoom, Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering, and Technology, Kansas City, Missouri, 10 November 2022

On Thursday, November 10, at 7.00pm (CT), the Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering, and Technology will host the fourth installment of its 2022 After Hours series. The program places Library staff in dialogue with outside scholars, collectors, and other cultural heritage professionals to create wide-ranging conversations about books in the collection.

In the upcoming program, Adrian Johns and Jason Dean will unpack the remarkable story of the 1712 Historiae Coelestis Libri Duo through the material evidence found in the Library’s copy of the 1712 edition, as well as the later, authorized, 1725 edition. Their presentation will also draw on the in-progress work of Emma Louise Hill as she works toward a census of the approximately 15 remaining copies of the 1712 edition. As per usual, the program will be recorded and posted online.

In the spring of 1716, the Astronomer Royal, John Flamsteed, built a pyre on Greenwich Hill near the Royal Observatory. From a safe vantage point, he watched with satisfaction as pages from a book he wrote went up in flames, calling them a good “sacrifice to TRUTH.” This was not done in a fit of frustration with his research, but rather to take back control of work that he felt had been stolen from him. The 1712 edition of Historiae Coelestis, though large, expensive, and beautifully printed, went to press prematurely against Flamsteed’s wishes. The series of events that led to Flamsteed’s furious burning of sections of that edition involved some of the most powerful members of the early Royal Society, including Isaac Newton and Edmond Halley, all embroiled in professional jealousy, intellectual theft, and clandestine printing.

Adrian Johns is Allan Grant Maclear Professor of History at the University of Chicago. Originally educated at Cambridge, he taught at the University of Kent, the California Institute of Technology, and the University of California, San Diego, before arriving in Chicago in 2001. He is the author of The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making (1998), Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates (2009), and Death of a Pirate: British Radio and the Making of the Information Age (2010), as well as dozens of papers on the histories of science, information, and the book. His latest book is The Science of Reading: Information, Media, and Mind in Modern America, forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press. He has been the recipient of awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the ACLS, the Mellon Foundation, and other bodies, and is currently at work on a history of the policing of information since the Middle Ages.

Jason W. Dean is Vice President for Special Collections at the Linda Hall Library. Prior to coming to the Library, Jason was Director of Special Collections & Archives at Southwestern University. He has previously held positions at the University of Arkansas and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. He earned an undergraduate degree in history from Hardin-Simmons University and his MS in Library and Information Science from Syracuse University. He is a member of the Grolier Club, and a past Institute of Library and Museum Services-Rare Book School fellow.

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