Exposed to the Elements: Matter and Knowledge in Early Modern Europe | Newberry

Exposed to the Elements: Matter and Knowledge in Early Modern Europe

The aftermath of the Flood, as shown in Athanasius Kircher’s De arca Noë, Amsterdam, 1675 (Case folio C 257 .465)

Rebecca Zorach

Thursday, January 16, 2020Thursday, April 2, 2020

2-5 pm   

Newberry Library

Taught by Rebecca Zorach, Northwestern University
Center for Renaissance Studies Programs
Renaissance Graduate Programs
Graduate Seminar

This seminar examines early modern European modes of knowledge-production by zeroing in on the idea of the “elemental.” From geometry to medicine and alchemy, almanacs and handbooks of prognostication to natural history (including colonial natural history), the Newberry’s collection includes books that deploy the notion of an “element” (and the “elemental” or even the “elementary”) in many different ways. We will emphasize the four traditional elements (earth, water, fire, and air), gaining an overview of premodern European categories of material knowledge. Held in conjunction with the “Renaissance Invention” exhibition and the symposium, “Elemental Forces,” (May 7-9), students in the course will have the opportunity to present their research in a workshop meeting with visiting scholars.

SCHEDULING NOTE: There will be a two-week break during the seminar. Class will NOT meet March 19 and 26, but will reconvene for the final class on April 2.

Learn more about the instructor: Rebecca Zorach, Northwestern University.

Prerequisites: None.

Students may take this seminar on a not-for-credit basis or arrange to earn credit at their home campuses. When space permits, consortium faculty members are encouraged to audit Newberry seminars, and graduate students from non-consortium schools may also enroll.

Cost and Registration Information 

The application period for this program has closed.