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seminar/WiP: Prof. Beat Kümin (University of Warwick), Dr Claudia Stein (University of Warwick) 'Messages to Posterity: Tower Ball Deposits in the German Lands', ‘Cultural History of Early Modern Medicine’

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Location: H3.03 Humanities building, University of Warwick
Beat Kümin will speak on 'Messages to Posterity: Tower Ball Deposits in the German Lands'.

From the late Middle Ages, chronicles and objects came to be deposited in "tower balls" appearing on top of church spires and other public buildings in the German lands. Where exactly can the custom be found, what did people select to put in there and which insights might historians gain from a closer analysis of the contents? This paper presents preliminary observations from a first survey of the phenomenon.

There is a slight change to Dr Claudia Stein’s presentation as publicised previously. Instead of talking specifically about her edited volume The Cultural History of Early Modern Medicine (Bloomsbury, 2018), she will talk about wider issues around disease in early modern times and how historians and other scholars have considered it. For her starting point, she will use a recent piece on more modern histories of disease The Taming of Surprise: AIDS and Intellectual Afterlife. She introduces it thus:

“The piece is for a Festschrift dedicated to the historian of science Lorraine Daston. It is a ‘surprise’ for her and the brief was to write about ‘surprise’ in a ‘surprising' way. Of course nothing is more difficult, I realised! In the background of the 1,000 word mini-article hovers my more recent thinking about the development of the cultural history of science and medicine and its relationship to wider societal developments since the 1980s .In my brief presentation, I shall put more ‘flesh’ on the bones of my very short piece.“

Removal of the tower ball at St Nicholas, Leipzig (single-leaf print, 1592). State Archives of Saxony, Leipzig

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