Event—Center for Renaissance Studies

Global Aldrovandi: Exchanging Nature in the Early Modern World


The Bolognese polymath Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605) sought to make sense of the changing world of the sixteenth century. Europe’s explorations and conquests in Asia, Africa, and the Americas both challenged and inspired Aldrovandi’s project to produce a revised Historia Naturalis. The newly “discovered” worlds not only revealed an astonishing amount of previously unknown animals, plants, and artifacts, but they also posed a new epistemological challenge: They brought into question the methodological and taxonomic Aristotelian framework that Aldrovandi had employed.

Substantial scholarship devoted to Aldrovandi and the New World has begun to explore Aldrovandi’s global interests. The proposed international conference aims to expand our knowledge of Aldrovandi’s conception of the world by examining the effects that the changing globe had on Aldrovandi’s work, investigating what types of extra-European specimens were included in his research and how the author managed to include them in the general architecture of his intellectual project. For instance, what did Aldrovandi collect from Africa and Asia and how were these other regions of the world represented and described in his publications? What did his extensive correspondence with northern European scholars inform him of other parts of Europe? How did Aldrovandi think comparatively about different regions of the world?

This program is presented by by Offiss, the Dipartimento di Filosofia e Comunicazione, Dipartimento di Storia Culture Civiltà, Università di Bologna, and co-sponsored by Brill (Leiden) and the Center for Renaissance Studies, Newberry Library.

Click here for a downloadable conference flyer.


All times listed below are in Central European Summer Time.

Abstracts and Speaker Bios

Thursday, June 16

9:45 am

Marco Beretta (Università di Bologna)

Institutional Welcome
Alberto Credi (Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bologna)
Giovanni Matteucci (Director of the Department of Philosophy and Communication)
Francesca Sofia (Director of the Department of History and Cultures)
Roberto Balzani (Director of Sistema Museale di Ateneo, Università di Bologna)
Laura McEnaney (Vice President for Research and Academic Programs, Newberry Library)

Presentation of the Brill Seminar
Marco Beretta (Università di Bologna)

10:30 am

Morning Session Chair: Marco Beretta (Università di Bologna)

Opening Remarks
Paula Findlen (Stanford University)

11-11:45 am

Indigenous American Knowledge in Aldrovandi’s Works
Davide Domenici (Università di Bologna)

Respondent: Samir Bomoudiene (Villa Medici Rome/CNRS Lyon)

11:45 am-12:30 pm

New World Artifacts, Old Graphic Techniques and Visual Strategies? Woodcuts of Artifacts from the Americas in Musaeum Metallicum
Caroline Duroselle-Melish (Folger Shakespeare Library)

Respondent: Lia Markey (Newberry Library)

12:30-1 pm

General Discussion

Lunch Break

Afternoon Session Chair: Davide Domenici (Università di Bologna)

3-3:45 pm

Africa in Ulisse Aldrovandi’s Correspondence
Noemi di Tommaso (Università di Bologna)

Respondent: Ingrid Greenfield (Universität Basel/Villa I Tatti)

3:45-4:30 pm

Ulisse Aldrovandi: per Hieroglyphica ad Aegyptum
Cristiana Scappini (Università di Bologna) and Daniela Picchi (Museo Civico Archeologico di Bologna)

Respondent: Matteo Martelli (Università di Bologna)

4:30 pm

General Discussion

Friday, June 17

Morning Session Chair: Lia Markey (Newberry Library)

9:30-10:15 am

Aldrovandi’s Farmaceptica. Global Knowledge, Local Remedies
Barbara Di Gennaro Splendore (Bologna)

Respondent: Iolanda Ventura (Università di Bologna)

10:15-11 am

‘Per totum universum insinuans’: Fossils and Formative Powers, the Local and the Global
Rebecca Zorach (Northwestern University)

Respondent: Monica Azzolini (Università di Bologna)

11-11:45 am

Aldrovandi in Old Age: How an Elderly Man Saw his World
Hannah Marcus (Harvard University)

Respondent: David Lines (University of Warwick)

11:45 am-12:15 pm

General Discussion

Lunch Break

Afternoon Session Chair: Paula Findlen (Stanford University)

2:15-3 pm

Images from the East. Ulisse Aldrovandi and the Orient
Alessandro Tosi (Università di Pisa)

Respondent: Maria Vittoria Spissu (Università di Bologna/Newberry Library)

3-3:45 pm

Aldrovandi's Collections in Circulation: Assembling and Disassembling Objects during the Napoleonic Era and Beyond
Elena Canadelli (Università di Padova) and Luca Tonetti (Università di Bologna)

Respondent: Paolo Savoia (Università di Bologna)

3:45-4:15 pm

General Discussion

Coffee break

4:30-5:30 pm

Final Discussion