Invention, Philosophy and Technology in the Seventeenth Century

Below is the schedule for a day conference entitled Invention, Philosophy and Technology in the Seventeenth Century. Attendance is free, but I'd appreciate if you could let me know that you plan to attend ( ). Attached is a conference poster. Please circulate this email.
Wednesday 23rd May 2012

Berrick Saul Building – Treehouse and BS/008
9.15 Registration
9.30 Technology and the mysteries of trade (Treehouse)
  • Ayesha Mukherjee (Exeter), The economy and philosophy of manure in Hugh Platt (title tbc)
  • Paddy Bullard (Kent), Isaac Walton and Joseph Moxon, on technical manuals. (title tbc)
  • Eleanor Decamp (Oxford), [Keep] sharpe neere as you can, ever hidden from the eyes of the Patient’: the visibility of surgical objects in seventeenth-century literature
10.45 Coffee
11.15 Invention, Rhetoric and the rhetoric of invention, Part 1 (Treehouse)
  • Tullia Giersberg (King’s College, London), Cornelis Drebbel’s Perpetuum Mobile and the Contested Meanings of Invention in Ben Jonson’s Mercury Vindicated from the Alchemists at Court (1614-15)
  • Raphael Hallett (Leeds), ‘Invention’, ‘Creation’ and Early Modern Laboratory Culture
12.00 Lunch
1.00-1.45 Invention, Rhetoric and the rhetoric of invention, Part 2 (BS/008)
  • Helen Hills (York), ‘'Inventio and invenzione: from saintly relic to art and back in baroque Italy'
  • Adam Ganz (Royal Holloway), “Close, naked, natural" How the Lens changed writing

2.00 Making things and the cost of labour (BS/008)
  • Michael Harrigan (Warwick), Plantation, Labour and Technology in the Early Modern Antilles
  • Katherine Hunt (London Consortium, University of London) , From procedural to miscellany: how to make a firework in the mid-seventeenth century.
  • Cesare Pastorino (Sussex), Francis Bacon and the State Promotion of Innovation: the Early Stuart Patent System

3.30 Coffee
4.00 Getting Dirty in Early Modern England: Mines and Drains (BS/008)
  • Daisy Hildyard (Queen Mary’s), ‘The Workmen could give me very little Account of any thing’: John Locke and Daniel Defoe meet miners.
  • Will Calvert (Cambridge), "Invention, National Power, and the Limits of the Possible in Early Stuart England."
  • Claire Preston (Birmingham), 'Big Dig: the poetics of early-modern drainage'.


This symposium will look the history of invention, technology and philosophy
in the early modern era, the ways in which material life changed in the
period. It will consider how the period constituted the relationships
between science, philosophy and craft, or between trade and society. Topics
might include:

Public works and the provision of society - drainage, water, sewers, food,
mining, weapons, surgical instruments, trade and trade-guilds; the
regulation of the city; is 'capitalism' a helpful category for thinking the
early modern era?; what was the relationship between science and society?;
the early modern 'expert'; innovation and tradition; literature and
invention; automata and the early modern machine.

Symposium - May 23rd 2012

CREMS - University of York.

Speakers include: Claire Preston (Birmingham), Ayesha Mukherjee (Exeter)

Contact Kevin Killeen -

This symposium is part of the entirely digressive Thomas Browne Seminar,
whose designs for bullets made no impact whatsoever on the course of the
civil war.

Dr Kevin Killeen
Department of English and Related Literatures
University of York
Heslington, York
YO10 5DD