Working Groups

Early Modern Science

The Early Modern Science Working Group meets monthly to discuss a colleague’s work in progress or to discuss readings that are of particular interest to participants.  Meetings are usually held at the Consortium offices in Philadelphia from 3:30 to 5:00 on first Fridays.  Scholars located anywhere can also participate online.

If you would like to join this working group please contact or .


Peter Dear is Professor of the History of Science at Cornell University. His research focus is on the history of European science in the seventeenth century.  He teaches more broadly in the history of science, however, and in the fairly new field of science and technology studies. Read more about his research here.


Robert Westman is Professor of History at U.C. San Diego. His research focus is on the history of fifteenth-century astronomy and the cultural and political context of Copernicus and his work. Read more about his research here.

Upcoming Meetings

December 2, 2016


Bob Westman of UCSD and André Goddu of Stonehill College will discuss with group participants their recent work on Copernicus.

Robert S. Westman, Copernicus and the Astrologers, Dibner Library Lecture, December 12, 2013, Smithsonian Libraries. (Available here.)

André Goddu, “Ludwik Antoni Birkenmajer and Curtis Wilson on the Origin of Nicholas Copernicus’s Heliocentrism,” Isis, v 107, no 2, June 2016, pp. 225-253. (DOI: 10.1086/687031)

Past Meetings

October 21, 2016

Participants in Consortium Working Groups attended remotely a symposium held at the University of Minnesota.  The symposium will produce a special issue of the Journal of Early Modern History on the topic “Beyond the ’Scientific Revolution:’ Thinking Globally about the History of Modern Science.” The presenters were:
Jorge Canizares Esguerra, UT Austin
Hal Cook, Brown
Harun Küçük, UPenn
Carla Nappi, UBC
Ahmed Ragab, Harvard
Kapil Raj, EHESS Paris
Daniela Bleichmar, USC
JB Shank, UMN
Program and details

April 14, 2016

The group discussed Peter Dear’s “Afterword” for the Palgrave Handbook of Literature and Science and Mary Baine Campbell’s chapter on “Literature” from The Cambridge History of Science: Volume 3, Early Modern Science (2006), edited by Katharine Park and Lorraine Daston.

March 10, 2016

We read the first two chapters from David Wootton’s recent book, The Invention of Science, L. Daston’s review (from the Guardian), and A. Wulff’s review (from the Financial Times).

November 12, 2015

The group discussed Kleber Cecon’s “Chemical Translation: The Case of Robert Boyle’s Experiments on Sensible Qualities,” Annals of Science, Vol. 68, No. 2, April 2011, pp. 179-198, as well as Pamela Smith’s “In the Workshop of History: Making, Writing, and Meaning,” West 86th, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Spring-Summer 2012), pp 4-31.

October 7, 2015

The group joined the “Science Beyond the West” group for a special event: Dimitri Gutas and H. Floris Cohen discussed Cohen’s recent book, How Modern Science Came Into the World: Four Civilizations, One 17th-Century Breakthrough (Amsterdam University Press, 2011).

April 9, 2015

Planning meeting for 2015-2016

March 12, 2015

Sue Wells of Temple University introduced her draft chapter, “‘The Anatomy of Melancholy’ and Early Modern Medicine.”

February 12, 2015

Nahyan Fancy of Depauw University introduced his paper, “Avicenna, Ibn al-Nafis, and New Developments in Physiology in Western Eurasia, 1200-1560”

December 11, 2014

Harun Küçük of UPenn introduced his draft paper, “The Compass and the Astrolabe: Religion and Empirical Knowledge in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire.”

November 13, 2014

Bruce Moran of the University of Nevada, Reno introduced his draft paper “Preserving the Cutting Edge: Traveling Woodblocks, Material Networks, and Visualizing Plants in Early Modern Europe”

October 9, 2014

Elly Truitt introduced chapter six, “The Trouble with Taxa,” from Daryn Lehoux’s What did the Romans Know?  An Inquiry into Science and Worldmaking.

April 10, 2014

Alisha Rankin of Tufts introduced her draft paper, “To Cure a Thief: Testing Poison Antidotes in Early Modern Europe.”

March 13, 2014

Darin Hayton of Haverford College introduced his paper “Byzantium: the Other East.”

December, 12 2013

Joel Klein of Indiana University introduced his “Daniel Sennert and the Quest for a (Nearly) Universal Medicine”.

November, 14 2013

Nicholas Harris of UPenn introduced a chapter from his dissertation Better Religion through Chemistry: ‘Izz al-Din Aydemir al-Jildaki and Alchemy under the Mamluks.  This chapter examines the alchemist al-Jildaki’s legacy, and, more broadly, discusses the implications of the omission of early modern Arabic alchemy
from the history of alchemy.

October 10, 2013

Darin Hayton of Haverford College introduced the “Introduction” to his book Astrology and Politics in the Holy Roman Empire

May 2, 2013

Joel Klein of Indiana University introduced selections from "Communities of Learned Experience:  Epistolary Medicine in the Renaissance" by Nancy G. Siraisi

April 19, 2013

Stephen Greenblatt’s "The Swerve"

March 6, 2013

Selections from Ann Blair’s "Too Much to Know"

February 6, 2013

Elly Truitt introduced her draft chapter "From Texts to Technology: Mechanical Automata in Courtly and Liturgical Pageantry".

November 14, 2012 at 6:30 (note special day and time)

Nicolas Wey-Gomez of CalTech introduced selections from his "The Tropics of Empire. Why Columbus Sailed South to the Indies". Transformations: Studies in the History of Science and Technology. Ed. Jed. Z. Buchwald. Cambridge, Mass. and London: The MIT Press, 2008.

October 3, 2012

Jonathan Seitz introduced a discussion of digital editions, their advantages and disadvantages and the possibilities they offer for new uses.  The group also planned the rest of the year’s meetings.

May 2, 2012

Susan Wells of Temple introduced "Oratory and Rhetoric in Renaissance Medicine" by Nancy Siraisi and "Rhetorical and Medicine in Descartes’ Passions de l'âme: The Issue of Intervention" by Nancy Struever.

April 4, 2012

Jonathan Seitz of Drexel introduced selections from "The Professor of Secrets: Mystery, Medicine, and Alchemy in Renaissance Italy" by William Eamon

March 7, 2012

"Politics and Astrology in Renaissance Hungary" by Darin Hayton, Haverford College

February 1, 2012

"’A very imperfect trial’: Notes on Martin Lister’s Book of Shells" by Jessica Rosenberg, UPenn

November 9, 2011

Elly Truitt introduced "The Empire of Observation, 1600-1800" by Lorraine Daston, and "Frogs on the Mantelpiece: the Practice of Observation in Daily Life" by Mary Terrall.

October 5, 2011

Elly Truitt introduced "Networks of Travel, Correspondence, and Exchange" by Steven J. Harris and selections from "Matters of Exchange" by Harold J. Cook

May 4, 2011

Elizabeth Coates Paschall’s Scientific Revolution:  Enlightened Experts and Healing Authority in Mid-Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia
by Susan Brandt, Temple University

April 6, 2011

Accountancy and Systole by Michael Neuss, Columbia University


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