‘Preparing the Elements’

Thursday 12th November

Illustration from 
Les Veillées du couvent, ou Le Noviciat d’amourby Mercier de Compiègne, (1793)

(Images: Albrecht Dürer, ‘Melancolia I’ (1514)

Jennifer Oliver (Oxford),

“Stony (and watery) minds and bodies in Michel de Montaigne’s Essays and travels”


‘Elena Sorochina (Oxford),

“Elemental beings of the air – sylphs and sylphides – in eighteenth-century French literature”

General discussion

Early Modern Masks

Wednesday 30 September

La methode curative des playes, et fractures de la teste humaine. : Avec les pourtraits des instruments necessaires pour la curation d’icelles. / Par M. Ambroise Paré. Wellcome Collection

This informal workshop discussion will explore early modern masks, real and figurative, and their roles in mediating or frustrating various forms of ‘transmission’

Rachel Hindmarsh (Trinity, Oxford), Ambroise Paré’s Suturing: Masking the Human/Material Boundaryand

Marie Thébaud-Sorger (CNRS, MFO/CAK), A ‘two-faced’ device : the socio-materiality of protective masks since the 18th Century

Respirateur anti-méphitique inventé par Pilâtre de Rozier, ext. Observations sur la Plysique…de l’Abbé Rozier, 1786. source Gallica, Bnf

Gestures of Nature

10 July 2020 webinar

Reproduced by permission of The Royal Society

How is knowledge or experience of nature mediated by gesture, bodily or otherwise? In this workshop, three short, informal papers, and an overarching interdisciplinary conversation between speakers and participants, will explore the roles of gesture (understood as encompassing a range of writerly, bodily, and otherwise social forms of communication) in shaping and communicating various forms of knowledge in the early modern period and beyond.

Speakers:

Viktoria von Hoffmann (F.R.S.-FNRS) / University of Liège) ‘The Expert Touch: Feeling Substances in Holy Anatomies’

Yelda Nasifoglu (Oxford) ‘Inscribing motion on paper: Robert Hooke’s drawing of the conical pendulum’

Michael Drolet (Oxford) ‘Touching is Compulsory: Labour and Collective Experience in Saint-Simonism’

Convenors : Jenny Oliver (Oxford), Marie Thébaud-Sorger (CNRS/MFO).

‘Sketch, model, machine: invention and authorship across the early modern arts’

Thursday, 14 November 2019

What do literary compositional practices have in common with the processes of technical invention and the plastic arts? How is ‘invention’ translated between page (text, diagram) and material reality (models and machines), and vice versa? When such processes prove problematic, where does authority, or authorship, lie? As in previous sessions, the workshop will consist of brief presentations and open interdisciplinary discussion, bringing together scholars from a range of early modern fields to exchange perspectives on primary/archival material and investigate shared methodological challenges.

Vittoria Fallanca (Pembroke College), ‘Wayward Lines: Disegno between techne and ars‘
Olivia Smith (Wolfson College), ‘Models of Leonardo da Vinci’s machines: an exhibition in Venice’
Ion Mihailescu (EPFL-Lausanne), ‘Within one’s grasp: Robert Hooke building Christopher Wren’s weather-clock’

Inaugural meeting

Image: from Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie, Maison Française d’Oxford

INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACHES IN LITERATURE AND THE HISTORY OF TECHNOLOGY

 

Historians of technology and researchers in literature(s) of the early modern period are often faced with similar issues, albeit while approaching texts in different ways. Coming to the same or similar material from these complementary perspectives, they have much to learn from one another. 

On the one hand, historians of early modern technology may be working on narrative accounts of inventions, treaties and practical writings – manuscript or printed – which use literary figures as powerful tools: rhetoric, (key)words, and commonplaces deeply rooted in a wider literary culture. On the other hand, researchers in early modern literature might seek to contextualise their texts in a wider setting, including technical writings of the time, which could have operated as patterns or references. 

 Both ‘groups’ of researchers have interests and problems in common: the thin boundaries between fiction and reality, the difficulty of establishing the position or importance of a text within various forms of hierarchy, the role of the imaginary, the notion and narration of the ‘genius’ and the various editorial strategies of the inventor-as-author and author-as-inventor, as well as the uses of (literary) technologies such as analogical figures, metaphors, sketches, and drawings. 

 The aim of this workshop is to provide a preliminary space for dialogue by bringing together various points of view and areas of expertise on both the writing of technology and the technology of writing. We hope to inaugurate a series of interdisciplinary cross-readings of fictional and non-fictional texts dealing with early modern techniques and inventions. Among the wide range of issues that could be investigated, this first meeting will begin in practical fashion, by inviting each researcher to put forward some of the primary material they are working on (whether manuscript or printed, though in English translation where practicable), to be pre-circulated and then discussed collectively. We then hope to collectively sketch out topics that might be further and fruitfully explored in future workshops and/or seminars. 

 

Programme 

 2 :10  Jenny Oliver (St John’s College, Oxford), ‘Diabolic invention? The Gaster episode of Rabelais’s Quart Livre ’ 

 2 :20  Koen Vermeir (CNRS, Paris), ‘Technology and the technique of writing the arts (Ramist texts )’

2 :30  Vittoria Fallanca (Pembroke College, Oxford), ‘ Montaigne’s Journal de voyage

2 :40  Olivia Smith (Wolfson College, Oxford), « Margaret Cavendish’s Blazing World (1666) » 

2 :50  Marie Thébaud-Sorger (CNRS, MFO), ‘Efficient technology: writing, drawing, and describing inventions overcoming the dramas of nature ’   

3 :00  Caroline Warman (Jesus College, Oxford) ‘The Senses as Tools: Diderot and the Ideologues ’

3 :10 Jérôme Baudry (University of Geneva), ‘Inscribing Inventions at the Paris Academy of Sciences, 1750-1850’

3 :20 Jessica Stacey (Oxford, Queen’s),  ‘Rivarol. De la philosophie moderne 

3 :30 Break 

3 :45 Discussion 

4 :45 Future planning