The boundaries of the world and of nature as Europeans knew them changed dramatically with cross- oceanic travels, starting in the late fifteenth century. Plants, animals, and lands never imagined before shook ancient beliefs about the world and prompted a renovated interest in observing and experimenting with nature. While artisans and natural philosophers built new instruments to look at the infinitely small or at the infinite skies, naturalists assembled natural specimens and artifacts in phantasmagoric collections. In this complex process, new formulations of the concepts of experience, observation, evidence, and authority emerged.
Alongside the well-known Copernicus, Vesalius, Galileo, and Newton we will learn about the laboratories where less-known alchemists studied matter, the apothecary shops where precious stones and exotic plants arrived from distant lands, and the anatomical theatres where during Carnival physicians and surgeons dissected corpses of executed criminals. We will analyze the role of new scientific institutions in the creation of new natural knowledge, such as the Academia del Cimento and the Royal Academy, as well as the role of the printing press in the diffusion of new ways of knowing.
A known historian recently wrote: “There was no such thing as the Scientific Revolution and this is a book about it.” We will ask: Was there a Scientific Revolution? And if so, what did it look like?
This course accompanies students in the exploration of a time of monumental cognitive change. The aim is to reassess the heroic tale of the Scientific Revolution by offering an overview of the different ways in which people came to understand the natural world in the early modern period.
At the conclusion of this course, students will:
– develop a solid conceptual understanding of the course material
– describe the actors, concepts, and practices of the cognitive change that goes under the name of Scientific Revolution
– discuss the early modern sites where natural knowledge was produced
– approach primary sources with a historical perspective
– contextualize objects and images referring to the Scientific Revolution
– demonstrate good communication skills: written, oral, visual and interactive, to understand and tell the story of the past.
This course runs through SRISA's external partners at ISI. SRISA students may take up to 1 course through an external partner.