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Cultural Production of Natural Knowledge, 1700-1850

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30 October 2010, University of Warwick

This one-day interdisciplinary workshop seeks to understand the cultural and aesthetic frameworks within which medical and scientific knowledge was created, represented and communicated in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. We aim to place these within the contexts of the wider global circulation of people, texts and things, and the expanding market for medical knowledge and scientific objects. Confirmed participants include Clare Brant (KCL), John Christie (Oxford), Judith Hawley (Royal Holloway), Colin Jones (Queen Mary), and Miles Ogborn (Queen Mary).

We envisage that the workshop will focus on the following themes. First, we wish to discuss the cultural discourses surrounding the collection and collation of new facts from the field. Questions that might be discussed could include: Who acted as intermediaries in the transmission of information, and how did they do so? What factors influenced the extent to which informants’ contributions were included, or excluded, by the travellers who collected new knowledge? How did these processes of collection and inscription relate to those that took place in the metropole, where texts were edited and streamlined for publication, objects were marshalled into museum collections, and paintings were produced and displayed? What was the relationship between natural knowledge and place / space, and how did this relate to contemporary aesthetic theory?

Second, we aim to relate these cultural contexts to the production and consumption of texts, collections and visual representations. Who read these texts or studied collections, and how did they relate to them? How were scientific and medical ideas created and disseminated in literary texts, epistolary culture, travel writings, works of art, and other cultural productions? What were the points of intersection between aesthetic discourse and medical and scientific knowledge?

Bringing together scholars of literature, geography, history and art history, this workshop will discuss the cultural production of knowledge, texts, and visual representations of natural knowledge.

The workshop will be held at the Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick on Saturday 30 October 2010, from 9.30am, concluding with a wine reception at 5.30pm.


The workshop is free, but please register by using our online form. The deadline for registration is Monday 25 October 2010.

Further Information

For further information, please visit the event web page or contact the event organizers, Sarah Easterby-Smith ( and Emily Senior (