Manipulating Flora. Gardens as laboratories in the Renaissance and Early Modern Europe

Dates: January 21-22, 2016

Location: Institute for Research in the Humanities, Bucharest, Romania

Although plants are pivotal in the understanding of nature because of their position between inert matter and living bodies, botany played a minor role during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It was often subsidiary tomimosa pudica linneo medicine (generally used for therapeutics) or immersed in the demanding labour of natural collecting. Yet botanical practice developed alongside the rise of early modern philosophy and science, as a subject of lively debates and controversies, collections and dissemination, alchemical investigations, experimental collaborations, and philosophical revolutions. Particularly, experiments with plants were significant in seventeenth century Europe, since they concerned the manipulation of various processes such as generation, vegetation, and growth, all of which reshaped the Aristotelian approach into a new systematization of nature. These practices involved a wide range of men and women – botanist, alchemists, physicians, natural philosophers, and natural magicians – whose work aimed at serving various purposes. Botany therefore developed as a central subject for disseminating knowledge and collecting information regarding the natural world, manipulating hidden qualities, providing remedies for diseases, and completing the mechanization of natural philosophy.

Botany plays an overlooked role in shaping early modernity. Because philosophers, scholars, experimenters, physicians and botanists moved between public horti botanici and (secret or) private gardens, this workshop seeks original contributions exploring the connection between experiments with plants and the emergence of modern science and philosophy. Our focus will be on the influences of experimentation with plants in natural philosophy, but also in the development of particular sciences. Wide-ranging contributions discussing the art(s) of experimentation with plants, or exploring the collaborative dimension of the processes of botanical (and physiological) knowledge are welcome, as long as they help to reveal the significant status of manipulating nature through botanical studies.

Invited speakers: Prof. Antonio Clericuzio (Universita’ Roma Tre); Dr. Alette Fleischer (Amsterdam University); Dr. Florike Egmond (Leiden University); Dr. Hiro Hirai (Radboud University Nijmegen); Dr. Cesare Pastorino (Technische Universitaet Berlin); Dr. Doina-Cristina Rusu (University of Bucharest).

Researchers from various areas are invited to submit proposals by the 15th of October, including the author’s name, affiliation, a short CV, and contact information (the email address), the paper title (15-word maximum), an abstract (250-word maximum), and a short bibliography (up to 5 works). Please submit proposals via email to manipulatingflora@gmail.com

For information, please write to session organizers Fabrizio Baldassarri (fabrizio.baldassarri@gmail.com) and Oana Matei (oanamatei@yahoo.com).

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