Courts and Scientific Exchange in the Long Seventeenth Century

Friday, May 12, 2006–Saturday, May 13, 2006
All Day

William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron Street

—a conference organized by Malcolm Smuts, University of Massachusetts, Boston, and Geoffrey Symcox, University of California, Los Angeles

Recent scholarship has demonstrated the importance of seventeenth century courts in the history of what we now call the scientific revolution. We propose to build on this work though a conference examining how investigations of the natural world were shaped by one of the most striking features of baroque court societies, namely their highly cosmopolitan character. European courts were densely interconnected to each other and to satellite environments in their own dominions through bonds forged by dynastic marriages, diplomacy, aristocratic tourism, and intense competition for cultural prestige. The resulting networks facilitated movements of natural philosophers from one court to another, while also spreading ideas, information, and cultural fashions that impinged on natural philosophy. The growth of overseas empires simultaneously led to significant contacts with Asia and the Americas, allowing some courts to gather observations and natural specimens on a truly global scale. By bringing together leading scholars who specialize on different regions and different aspects of the history of science, this conference hopes to initiate a more focused conversation on the subject of how the international communication centered on baroque courts shaped the development of new approaches to the study and representation of the natural world.

Session 1
Chair: Malcolm Smuts, University of Massachusetts, Boston

John Robert Christianson, Luther College
“Tycho Brahe and Networks of Science at the Danish Court, 1559–1601”

Pamela H. Smith, Columbia University
“Nobles and Insects: Collecting Art and Nature at Court”

Session 2
Chair: Geoffrey Symcox, University of California, Los Angeles

David Freedberg, Columbia University
“The Failure of Trust: Scientific Exchange at the Court of Francesco Barberini”

Paula Findlen, Stanford University
“Reviving the Cimento: Gender, Science, and Patronage in Early Eighteenth-Century Italy”

Session 3
Chair: Margaret Jacob, University of California, Los Angeles

Mordechai Feingold, California Institute of Technology
“An English Enigma? The Stuart Court and the Making of the Royal Society”

Matthew L. Jones, Columbia University
“History, Propaganda and Natural Knowledge in Hanover: Leibniz on Scholarly Exchange and Perfecting Courtly Rule”

Simon Werrett, University of Washington, Seattle
“Courting Expertise: Peter the Great’s Embassies and Scientific Exchange, 1696–1725”