FUNDING: Funded PhD in the History of Early Modern Science - Iconography of Early Modern Scientific Instruments.

The Interdisciplinary Centre for Science and Technology Studies (IZWT) at Wuppertal University invites applications for a

PhD position (65%, E 13 TVL) in History of Early Modern Science

starting April 1, 2018. This position is part of the research project “Iconography on Early Modern Scientific Instruments” (for a description of the project see below), funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

The project Iconography on Early Modern Scientific Instruments specifically analyses the imagery of such instruments and aims at a systematic analysis of the multifaceted visual material on the instruments, asking for its role in the various contexts of the adorned instruments (genesis, function, use).   Requests concerning the project should be directed to Volker Remmert.


A master’s degree in history of science or history of art and a specialization in the history of early modern science or art. Cf. the official posting can be found here (in German).

Applications referring to the job opening 17255 should include a c.v., copies of diploma, research profile. Applications should be submitted electronically to Univ.- Prof. Dr. Volker Remmert

The University is working towards increasing the role of women in research positions. Women will be preferentially employed if their qualification and records of research are equal to other candidates. This does not affect the preferential employment of handicapped persons if their qualification is equal.

Applications should arrive no later than January 19, 2018.

Iconography on Early Modern Scientific Instruments

During the Scientific Revolution scientific instruments, such as astrolabes, air pumps, microscopes and telescopes became increasingly important for the study of nature. In the early modern period they had not yet reached the status of standardized and impersonal means to study nature. Rather they usually were unique items, which by their function as well as their design could serve the mediation between scholars, social elites and beyond. In this context the iconography on the instruments played a crucial role. In fact a great number of early modern instruments are adorned with images, that in themselves have no relevance for the use of the instruments, as for instance the depiction of Atlas and Hercules on an astrolabe by Praetorius (1568, Dresden) or the line of tradition in astronomy and geometry on Bürgi’s astronomical clock (1591, Kassel) stretching from the church fathers to Copernicus. As of now such imagery on instruments and its contexts have only sporadically been analysed.

The project Iconography on early modern scientific instruments specifically analyses the imagery on the instruments. It aims for the first time at a systematic analysis of the multifaceted visual material on the instruments asking for its role in the various contexts of the adorned instruments (genesis, function, use) and its importance for setting up or supporting stories/histories of success and relevance within the emerging field of the sciences. The iconography points to quite a few significant topics as, for instance, statements of specific positions in theoretical debates (e.g. Copernican question), mediation and illustration of knowledge, in particular by picturing the usability of the instruments, or the role of instruments as patronage artefacts with specific iconographic programmes.

The analysis of the imagery is likewise highly relevant in order to understand the intellectual, cultural and artistic contexts shaping and determining the production of instruments in the early modern period. It opens a window on the investigation of collaborative processes during the conception, design and construction of instruments in the multi-layered field between instrument makers, artists, artisans, patrons and scholars.