Event—Scholarly Seminars

Paula Findlen, Stanford University


The Anonymous Neapolitan: Faustina Pignatelli and the Bologna Academy of Sciences, Paula Findlen, Stanford University

In 1734, four anonymous "Neapolitan problems" appeared in the Nova acta eruditorum. Their author, Faustina Pignatelli, enjoyed an international reputation for her understanding of mathematical physics even in relation to far more well-known women of science such as Laura Bassi and Emilie du Châtelet. This talk reconstructs what it meant to be a woman of science in eighteenth-century Naples, including her relationship with the Bologna Academy of Sciences. Ultimately, Pignatelli would become the fictional mediator of a scientific dialogue on living force (vis viva) by Francesco Maria Zanotti, the long-time secretary and president of the Bologna Academy, after he visited Naples in 1750. This talk will meditate on anonymity and publicity, the real and imagined life of science, memory, and obsolescence.