Dates : 14-18 juin 2021 (en visioconférence)
Date limite de réponse à l’appel : 15 septembre 2020
In modern scientific publications, readers will often encounter diagrams providing a visual account of some complex concept or theory. This visual tool, the diagram, has a long, yet ill-understood history in premodern science. While some fields of knowledge, e.g. geometry and astronomy, have used diagrams from its very start, other disciplines of medieval and early modern science (such as medicine and alchemy) adopted this tool of presentation and reasoning at a later stage. This conference seeks to address and compare the development and use of diagrams in all strands of premodern scientific knowledge between approx. 1300 and 1700. This time period is chosen specifically to be able to study the material and medial side of diagrams, and to understand whether and how the introduction of the printing press to the Western World impacted the production, use, and availability of diagrams. Print was restricting the options, since for example, colour was harder to produce, diagrams were not always printed directly next to the related text, and the preparation of woodblocks and copper plates requested other skills than drawing them. At the same time diagrams (like texts, and other visual tools) became wider spread through print. Did this have an impact on the use of diagrams in the various scientific “disciplines” of premodern science? How strongly was diagrammatic thinking part of scientific practice on paper? We believe that we need to study the history of the diagram as part of the “scientific toolbox”, against the backdrop of broader scientific, technological and social developments, to understand more about the use, function, and epistemic value of images in premodern science in general.
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