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Knowledge, Power and Nature 1500-1700 - Term 1 Week 5

Seminar Reading

Sachiko Kusukawa, ‘The Uses of Pictures in the Formation of Learned Knowledge: the Cases of Leonhard Fuchs and Andreas Vesalius,’ in Transmitting Knowledge: Works, Images, and Instruments in Early Modern Europe, ed. by Sachiko Kusukawa and Ian Maclean (Oxford, 2006), 73-96.

Smith, Pamela, The Body of the Artisan: Art and Experience in the Scientific Revolution (Chicago, 2004), introduction and chapter 2, pp. 1-31; pp. 59-94.

Seminar/Essay Questions

  • What was the problem with the dissemination of the new practical knowledge?
  • 'Scientific Picture do speak the truth.' Discuss.
  • Why was the reference to bodily experience in the making of knowledge so scandalous at the time?

Further Reading

Bylebyl, Jerome, ‘The Manifest and the Hidden in the Renaissance Clinic’ in, Medicine and the Five Senses, ed. by William F. Bynum and Roy Porter (Cambridge,1993), pp. 40-60.

Carlino, Andrea, Books of the Body: Anatomical Ritual and Renaissance Learning (Chicago: 1999).

Christie, John R. R., ‘The Paracelsian Body’, in Paracelsus: The Man and His Reputation, His Ideas and Their Transformation, ed. by Ole Peter Grell (Leiden, 1998).

Cunningham, Andrew, The Anatomical Renaissance: The Resurrection of the Anatomical Projects of the Ancients (Cambridge, 1997).

Eamon, William, ‘Arcana Disclosed: The Advent of Printing, the book of Secrets Tradition and the Development of Experimental Science in the Sixteenth Century’, History of Science 22 (1984): 111-150.
-- Science and the Secrets of Nature: Books and Secrets in Medieval and Early Modern Culture (Princeton, 1994).

Daston, Lorrain, ‘The Nature of Nature in Early Modern Europe’, Configurations 6 (1998): 149-172

French, Roger, Dissection and Vivisection in the European Renaissance (Aldershot, 1999).

Grell, Ole Peter, ed., Paracelsus: The Man and His Reputation (Leiden, 1998).

Kemp, ‘“The Mark of Truth”: Looking and Learning in Some Anatomical Illustrations from the Renaissance and Eighteenth Century’, in Medicine and the Five Senses, ed. by William F. Bynum and Roy Porter (eds.) (Cambridge, 1993), pp. 85-121.

Kusukawa, Sachiko, Picturing the Book of Nature: Image, Text and Argument in Sixteenth-Century Human Anatomy and Medical Botany (Chicago, 2012), pp. 199-227.

Moran, Bruce, ‘Paracelsus and Paracelsians: Natural Relationships and Seperation as Creation’, in Moran, Destilling Knowledge: Alchemy, Chemistry and the Scientific Revolution (Cambridge, Mass, 2005), pp. 67-98.

-- Paracelsus, Religion and Dissent: The Case of Philipp Homagius and Georg Zimmermann', Ambix 43: 65-79.

Nummedal, Tara, Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire (Chicago, 2007)

Ogilvie, Brian, Describing Science, The Science of Describing: Natural History in Renaissance Europe (Chicago, 2006).

Perez-Ramos, Antonio, Francis Bacon’s Idea of Science and the Maker’s Knowledge Tradition (Ocford, 1988).

Principe, Lawrence M., Newmann, William R., ‘Some Problems with the Historiography of Alchemy.’ In Secrets of Nature: Astrology and Alchemy in Early Modern Europe, ed. by W. R. Newmann and Anthony Grafton (Cambridge, Mass. 2001).

Siraisi, Nancy G., Medieval & Early Renaissance Medicine: an Introduction to Knowledge and Practice (Chicago, 1990), chapter: Physiology and Dissection.

Swaday, Jonathan, The Body Emblazoned: Dissection and the Human Body in Renaissance Culture (London: Routledge, 1995).

Webster, Charles, From Paracelsus to Newton: Magic and the Making of Modern Science (Cambridge, 1982).

-- Medicine, Magic and Mission at the End of Time (New Haven 2008).

Wear Andrew, ‘Epistemology and Learned Medicine in Early Modern Europe’, in Knowledge and Scholarly Medical Traditions, ed. by Don Bates (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 151-174.

Weeks, Andrew, Paracelsus: Speculative Theory and the Crisis of the Early Reformation (Albany, 1997).

Primary source:

Harriot, Thomas, A Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1588), in The English Literature of America, 1500-1800, ed. by Myra Jehlen & Michael


Seminar Readings:

Barrera, Antonio, ‘Local Herbs, Global Medicine, Commerce, Knowledge, and Commodities in Spanish America’, in Pamela Smith and Paula Findlen (eds.), Merchants & Marvels: Commerce, Science and Art in Early Modern Europe (New York/London, 2002), pp. 163-181.

Debus, Allen G., Man and Nature (.....), chapter: Study of Nature in a Changing World (good overview), pp. 34-53.

Goldgar, Anne, ‘Nature as Art: The case of the Tulip’, (eds.), Merchants & Marvels: Commerce, Science and Art in Early Modern Europe ed. by Pamela Smith and Paula Findlen (New York/London, 2002), pp. 163-181. (For the tulip craze see also Anna Pavot interesting story quoted below).

Grafton, Anthony/Shelford, April/ Siraisi, Nancy, New Worlds, Ancient Texts: the Power of Tradition and the Shock of Discovery (Cambridge, Mass.: Cambridge University Press, 1992).

Schmidt, Benjamin, ‘Inventing Exoticism: The Project of Dutch Geography and the Marketing of the World, circa 1700’, in Merchants & Marvels: Commerce, Science and Art in Early Modern Europe, ed. by Pamela Smith and Paula Findlen (New York/London, 2002), pp. 370-370.


Further Readings:

Armesto-Fernandez, Filipe, Before Columbus: Exploration and Colonisation from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, 1229-1492 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987).

Brenner, Robert, Merchants and Revolutions: Commercial Change, Political Conflict, and London’s Overseas Traders, 1550-1653 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993).

Friedberg, David, ‘Science, Commerce, and Art: Neglected Topics at the Junctions of History and Art History’, in Art in History/History in Art, ed. by David Freedberg and Jan de Vries (Santa Monica: Getty Centre for the History of Art und the Humanities, 1991), pp. 376-428.

Jardine, Lisa, Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance (London/New York, W.W. Norton, 1996), chapter: Culture of Commodities.

Parker, John (ed.), Merchants and Scholars: Essays in the History of Exploration and Trade (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1965).

Pavord, Anna, The Tulip (London: Bloomsbury, 1999).

Risse, Guenther, B., ‘Medicine in New Spain’, in Medicine in the New World: New Spain, New France, and New England (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1987), pp. 29-45. (Extract from Health, Disease, and Society (…), pp. 326-327.

Schama, Simon, The Embarrassment of the Riches: an Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age (New York: Vintage Books, 1997), in chapter five he treats the tulip mania in an imaginative way).

Smith, Pamela/ Findlen, Paula (eds.), Merchants & Marvels: Commerce, Science and Art in Early Modern Europe(New York/London, 2002), Introduction. (Good overview on what has been done in these areas of scientific revolition and commerce!).



  1. Is ‘money’ always the driving force behind all ‘discovery?
  2. What difficulties did early modern European’s encounter when introducing New World products on the European market?