The Material Vehicles of the Circulation of Natural Knowledge in the Low Countries

Ghent (Belgium)
10-11 May 2007
Supported by Centre for History of Science, Ghent University, Center for Medieval and Renaissance Natural Philosophy, Radboud University, Nijmegen
In this workshop we shall look at the circulation of the material embodiments of knowledge. In recent years the study of the material culture of science – instruments, graphic representations, materia medica, books, letters, and manuscripts, alchemical recipes or specimens, collections of natural and artificial objects, etc. — has received close attention as a way to understand historical scientific practice. In this workshop we invite the contributors to study this abundant material culture from the point of view of the circulation of knowledge. The guiding question will be the extent to which material objects can be said to be carriers and producers of natural knowledge. We are interested in cases in which materials do not only allow for knowledge to travel, but in which the material objects themselves ‘in circulation’ create knowledge when being applied, looked at, consumed, read, or otherwise appropriated at their place of destination. What happens to the graphic representation, collection of objects, glass prism, pump or cocoa leaf in its new surroundings? To what extent does the ‘knowledge’ of which they are potentially the carriers remain stable, allowing to serve shared knowledge as a material anchor? The focus of the program of our research network and this workshop is on the Low Countries. While thecentral concept of ‘circulation’ makes it impossible to limit discussion to one place, the various contributions to this workshop address the Low Countries as a place of departure, transit or destination.

‘The Material Vehicles of the Circulation of Natural Knowledge in the Low Countries’ is a workshop that will be held at the Centre for History of Science, Ghent University, 10-11 May 2007. In this workshop, the first of a series of workshops on ‘circulating knowledge in early modern science’organized under the auspices of a five-year international scientific research network of the Flemish Research Foundation, we shall look at the material culture of science from the point of view of the circulation of
Thursday, 10 May 2007
18.00 – 18.15 Welcome & Opening Remarks
Fernand Hallyn (Director, Centre for History of Science, Ghent University)
18.15 – 19.00 Making and Knowing: Craft and Natural Philosophy in the
Scientific Revolution
Pamela Smith (Columbia University, New York City)
Friday, 11 May 2007
9.00 – 9.45 The Importance of Exotic Specimens: Gardens, Cabinets, and
Medical Expertise
Harold Cook (The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL,
9.45 – 10.30 Reproducing the Natural World: Considerations on the
Circulation of Knowledge by Pictorial Means in Early Modern Holland
Claudia Swan (Northwestern University, Evanston)
10.30 – 11.00 Coffee
11.00 – 11.45 The Material Circulation of Botanical and Cosmographical
Knowledge between Spain and the Low Countries
María Luz López & Victor Navarro-Brotons (Universidad de Valencia)
11.45 – 12.30 Ignorance and the Circulation of Knowledge: Collecting Optics
in Early Seventeenth-Century Antwerp
Sven Dupré (Universiteit Gent)
14.30 – 15.15 Instruments and the Changing Shape of Astrological Practice
Steven Vanden Broecke (Katholieke Universiteit Brussel)
15.15 – 16.00 Chemical Books Printed in the Southern Low Countries
Brigitte Van Tiggelen (Université Catholique de Louvain)
16.00 – 16.30
16.30 – 17.15 Reading Diagrams: Order and Motion in Conic Sections
Fokko Jan Dijksterhuis (Universiteit Twente, Enschede)
17.15 – 17.45 Concluding Remarks & General Discussion
Christoph Lüthy (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen)
Attendance is open to all without charge. However, there is a limit on places available and anyone wishing to attend must register with Arlette Wille ( by 1 May 2007. For all other enquires in connection to this workshop, please contact Sven Dupré
( Circulation of this announcement is encouraged.
Upcoming workshops
Geographical circulation, autumn 2007, Leuven
organizers: Harold Cook (Wellcome Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL)
and Geert Vanpaemel (University of Leuven)
Controlling circulation, spring 2008, Brussels
organizers: Mordechai Feingold (California Institute of Technology) and
Geert Vanpaemel (Catholic University of Leuven)
Circulation of knowledge criteria, autumn 2008, Ghent
organizers: Lissa Roberts (Twente University) and Steven Vanden Broecke
(Catholic University of Brussels)

Via: H-MUSEUM, H-Net Network for Museums and Museum Studies