Abstracts Archive

Arising from the 1955 Russell-Einstein Manifesto, the Pugwash Conferences brought elite scientists together across ideological divides to confront the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. Powered by ideas about scientific social responsibility and claiming political neutrality, Pugwash developed an approach to disarmament based on the shared language ...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

In 1820 the radical journalist Richard Carlile declared in the pages of his 'Republican' that science had for centuries been "continually at war" with religion. While historians have tended to locate the conflict thesis as the product of debates much later in the nineteenth century, in this paper I show how a militant, scientifically-inflected irre...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceContributed Paper

This article examines the text and context of elephant mantras used in shamanic modes of healing in early modern Malaya to elucidate an historical ethnography of the relationship between humans and elephants. It offers a methodological intervention in terms of how such sources can be read as well as a historiographical argument that complicates not...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

Clustering around the introduction and proliferation of the birth control pill in 1960 U.S., I present a cultural history of this invention’s enduring consequences for the liberatory imagination through an intertextual conversation between an unexpected trio: science fiction novelist Ursula Le Guin, radical feminist Shulamith Firestone, and the P...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceContributed Paper

The seventeenth century was an intense period of study of volcanoes and earthquakes. Major European thinkers such as Johannes Kepler, Athanasius Kircher, and René Descartes all had something to say about the causes of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. While none of their theories proved completely right, the fact that an astronomer, a Jesuit pol...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

Aristotle's Categories is one of the most influential and heavily commented on texts to survive from antiquity. It is so influential, and presents such a neat contrast to Plato's Theory of Forms, that he is often taken as virtually inventing categorialism as a tradition single-handedly. Yet this is far too neat a picture as his contemporaries Hermo...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

To study chromosomes under the microscope they need to be spread and flattened, fixed and stained. In short, they are highly manipulated dead objects in an artificial milieu. Yet in practitioners’ eyes, chromosomes have become “hypnotically beautiful objects” (Hsu 1979) to which researchers have remained deeply committed. What makes their obs...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

The British natural philosopher John Herschel (1792–1871) remains a paradoxical figure in the historiography of modern science: simultaneously recognized as pivotal in the development and professionalization of modern science while curiously under-examined. Herschel’s career spanned fields from astronomy to chemistry and optics to the first wri...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceRoundtable

In the first years of its existence between 1810 and 1815, the Royal Zoological Museum in Berlin processed just over 60 new animal specimens into its collection. In the few years following, this modest number of incoming specimens had exploded into the thousands, such that the museum’s shelves were already running out of room by 1818. New paper t...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

Malay-language recipes compiled in modern manuscripts, now catalogued as kitab tibb, kitab obat-obatan, and kitab mujarrabat, have become an essential part of Malay manuscript collections particularly in the Indonesian archipelago and in western Europe. These latent compilations of humoral, Prophetic, and indigenous medicine not only include recipe...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

Crowning the career of the Munich Latinist Eduard Wölfflin (1831-1908) was his role in founding the Thesaurus linguae Latinae, a massive lexicon that aimed to deliver an unprecedently complete history of the words it treated. The work, begun in the 1890s and still in progress today, is a standard research tool for philologists. For Wölfflin it re...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceContributed Paper

Between 1862 and 1881, the director of the Zoological Section of the Museu Nacional de Lisboa, José Vicente Barbosa du Bocage (1823-1907), launched and consolidated a research program to study national fauna supported by the addition of new collections. The characteristic fauna of Portuguese land and seas should no longer be unknown in the rest of...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

An intriguing, but little noticed, puzzle exists in the historiography of science in modern China: While Tianyanlun (On Heavenly Evolution), the Chinese translation of Thomas Huxley’s Evolution and Ethics, is widely celebrated as THE most influential book in modern Chinese intellectual history, it received little credit in the history of science....

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceContributed Paper

The Natural Philosophy Department of the University of Edinburgh in the 19th century is mostly associated with their famous professors, known for their inventions or their method of teaching, in which they used a wide range of instruments. In this talk, I will explore who in addition of the teaching staff had access to the instruments of the Natura...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceContributed Paper

Beginning in the 1660s, but especially after 1680, critics of astrology began to make historical prophecies of their own. According to this prophecy, one would soon encounter astrological beliefs only in the past, and reason would soon, once for all, reconquer the popular mind from superstition. Pierre Bayle, in his famous Pensées diverses sur la ...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

As scholars now agree, astrology played many roles in science, society, and culture in medieval and early modern Europe that we still do not fully understand. The belief that celestial bodies could influence human beings and nature at large was profoundly rooted in the premodern European worldview. Such supposed influences were used to analyze cele...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

Historians of science have explored the many ways in which 1960s radicalism disrupted the discipline of science. More recently, historians have begun to look at the 1970s as its own distinct era of transformation, one characterized as an “age of fracture” and “the great shift,” in the words of Daniel Rogers and Bruce Schulman. At this time,...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

The boundaries between the humanities and the sciences have traditionally been seen as solid and more or less impenetrable; however, in view of the closely entangled developments of the history of (non-human) nature and the history of (human) culture they may not be as unproblematic as first thought. This paper, together with the following (by Nick...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

This panel explores systems of classification across the many disciplines that constitute the early sciences. It interrogates the particular ways in which historical contexts shaped how natural philosophers, scientific practitioners, and scholars organized and categorized people, plants, nature, and ideas. Juxtaposing perspectives from different ti...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

Commentary on the papers presented by Nydia Pineda De Avila, Anne Secord, and Robert-Jan Wille

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

This paper will explore the correspondence of women botanical collectors in the U.S. Frontier West and will discuss the hidden histories of women’s scientific work taking place in the nation’s mining, mountain, and border outposts. Letters exchanged both between women in the West, and between these women and their eastern, generally male corres...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

“When I saw it, I began to scream.” Thus Miriam Menkin recalled her reaction, at the Free Hospital for Women in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1944, on observing what she believed was the first human egg ever fertilized in vitro. “Shaking like a leaf,” she “felt like—who was the first man to look at the Pacific—Balboa?” Such a precious...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

In the seventeenth century, a particular sort of early modern scholarship arose that privileged experience in integrating foreign sources of knowledge both in European and Ottoman contexts. These early modern scholars expounded the idea that a certain truth can be reached through conversations among individuals across religions, only if each person...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

Upon seeing Lord Rosse’s rendition of a nebula in 1845, John F. W. Herschel declared to a large audience that “he could not explain to the section the strong feelings and emotion with which he saw this old and familiar acquaintance in the very new dress.” Previously, when at his own telescope, Herschel had acquired strong feelings and become ...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

Aesop’s fables, a corpus of animal tales from ancient Greece, take the form of morality tales in which non-humans embody all-too-human weaknesses such as vanity, sloth, credulity and selfishness. One of the translators of the fables, the Anglo-Dutch physician Bernard Mandeville, would later write an Aesopian morality tale of his own: The Fable of...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

In the beginning of the sixteenth century, the interpretation of comets acquired a peculiar dichotomous notion. As phenomena that originated in earthly realms, according to Aristotelian belief, comets were increasingly interpreted according to their accompanying celestial configurations. The apparition of a comet in 1506 heralded the emergence of a...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

This paper examines the self-measurement and self-tracking practices of one individual, François-Marc-Antoine Naville, a turn of the eighteenth century Genevan pastor and pedagogical innovator, who extensively used self-measuring instruments to choose a destiny in life and improve his moral character. I situate his practices within emerging regime...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

Around 1445 the artist Andrea Amadio translated the plant imagery of a luxury herbal manuscript into a more extensive, stylistically-diverse illustrative cycle. This new manuscript contains the pharmacopeia of Venetian physician Nicolò Roccabonella (1386–1457), which distils traditional medical texts and compiles lexica of plant names (Bibl. Mar...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

How are animals to be classified? What gives unity to an animal species? What are the criteria for animals to be part of the same species? Variants of such problems are as intriguing to contemporary philosophers as they were to Scholastic scholars after Michael Scot translated three of Aristotle’s works on animals (History of Animals, Parts of An...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

The commentary complements the panel's papers and opens the floor for a more general discussion.

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session