Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry Autumn Meeting

Saturday 24 November 2018

The meeting will be held in Chadwick G07, UCL, Gower Street, London.
For directions please visit: UCL Chadwick Building


10.45: Registration. Please feel free to bring coffee with you. Soft drinks will be available at the meeting.

11.00–11.40: Dóra Bobory
Count Batthyány’s Letters on Alchemy – An Editorial Project

11.40-12.20: Umberto Veronesi
The Philosophers and the Crucibles: Chymical Practice from the Old Ashmolean Laboratory, Oxford

12.20-13.00: John R.R. Christie
Gender and the Representation of Chemistry: Two cases from the Eighteenth Century

13.00-14.30: LUNCH BREAK. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide lunch at this meeting but there are various cafés nearby, for example at the Friends Meeting House and Wellcome Library.

14.30-15.10: Frank James
Constructing Humphry Davy’s Biographies

15.10-15.50: William Brock
In Liebig’s Shadow: Heinrich Will (1812-90)

15.50-16.30: Michael Jewess
AERE and AEA Technology 1946-2012

The fee is £10 (SHAC and RSC Historical Group members), otherwise £15.
To register please refer to this information

London Renaissance Seminar: Book Talk - Living in a Material World

Friday 23 November 6-8
Room 106 School of Arts, Birkbeck College, 43 Gordon Square

Sara Pennell will introduce A Day at Home in Early Modern England by Tara Hamling and Catherine Richardson and Andrew Gordon will introduce Material Texts in Early Modern England (CUP, 2017) by Adam Smyth.

Wine will be served. The authors will attend.

Workshop on Mathematical and Astronomical Practices in pre-Enlightenment Scotland and her European Networks

23-24 Nov, 2018, St Andrews

Outline of meeting:

The workshop will focus on Scottish natural philosophy and mathematics, and their innovative developments between 1550 and 1750. The astronomical observatory James Gregory founded at the University of St Andrews in 1673, six years behind Paris, but two years ahead of Greenwich, is just one example of relevant institutional initiatives that were taking place in 17th-century Scotland. However, despite the major shifts in scientific culture taking place elsewhere, traditional Scottish historiography of the period has been framed in terms of religious factions. The question of how scientific innovations flourished in this context has been little addressed.

To understand this question, we are particularly interested in mathematical practices related to measurement both in astronomy and in contexts such as navigation, surveying, cask gauging, grain measuring, and so on. Early modern professional gaugers and measurers were essentially authoritative mediators, often at the service of local authorities, powerful lords, or the crown itself, mediating between merchants, bankers, landowners, town dwellers, and public authorities. Some apparently paradoxical processes of conceptual change in early modern mathematics, such as of ratio and proportionality, can only be understood by examining the mathematical collective tacit knowledge developed through practices with measuring instruments. Such instruments, and the associated practices, concepts, and books, circulated through networks of exchange.

Provisional Programme:

Friday 23 November

9.00-9.30 Registration

Alison Morrison-Low (National Museums of Scotland): Surviving scientific instruments from early modern Scotland: a survey

Samuel Gessner (Lisbon): Thinking with instruments and the appropriation of logarithms on the Iberian Peninsula around 1630

11.00 Coffee

11.30 Kevin Baker: Practices of Reading the Principia: How contemporaries engaged with Newton’s book in the years immediately after publication

Olivier Bruneau (Lorraine): Colin MacLaurin (1698-1746): a Newtonian between theory and practice

13.00 Lunch

14.00 Visit to Special Collections to see St Andrews' collection of Medieval and Early Modern mathematics and astronomy books

15.30 Tea

Steve Russ (Warwick): John Napier: the mysterious making of a mathematician

David Horowitz (St Andrews): John Craig (1663-1731)

Saturday 24 November

Davide Crippa (CNRS, Sphere): James Gregory and his Italian readers: beating untrodden paths

Pilar Gil (St Andrews): Building an astronomical observatory in the knowledge community of St Andrews in the 17th century

Bruno Almeida (Lisbon)

11.00 Coffee

Alex Craik (St Andrews): George Sinclair on Hydrostatics

Jane Wess (Edinburgh): Colin MacLaurin on Wind and Water: the Local and the Universal

13.00 Lunch

13.45 Albrecht Heefer (Ghent): The difficult relation of surveyors and algebra: the hundred geometrical questions of Cardinael

Philip Beeley (Oxford)

Antoni Malet (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona)

15.45 Close

Workshop on Mathematical and Astronomical Practices
Pdf version of provisional programme and abstracts, as of 22-10-18


This event is organised in conjunction with the British Society for the History of Mathematics and sponsored by the British Society for the History of Science and the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, to whom many thanks.

If you have any enquiries, please contact Isobel Falconer

Organised by the BSHM and the School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews; sponsored by the British Society for the History of Science, and the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications

CALL FOR PAPERS: Administrative accountability in the later Middle Ages: Records, procedures, and their societal impact

Bucharest, 16-17 November 2018

The emergence of new types of financial records, the creation of institutional procedures, and the birth of a bureaucratic corps in a society in which accountability had been largely social and moral represent key developments in the history of the later Middle Ages. The colloquium will explore the multifaceted reality of administrative accountability in Western Europe, c. 1200-1450. Because the renewed interest in the subject makes methodological exchanges all the more timely, the colloquium will provide a venue for testing new approaches to the sources. Special attention will be given to underexplored archival documents, such as the castellany accounts (computi) of late-medieval Savoy, and to topics that have hitherto received less attention, such as the social impact of institutional consolidation. Comparisons with better-known texts, such as the English pipe rolls, are also encouraged.

The colloquium is organised in the frame of the European Research Council Starting Grant no. 638436, ‘Record-keeping, fiscal reform, and the rise of institutional accountability in late-medieval Savoy: a source-oriented approach’ (University of Bucharest)

Proposals for 30-minute papers are invited on topics including:
  • the institutional dialogue between the central and local administration
  • the impact of administrative and fiscal reform on local communities
  • accounting practices and the auditing of financial records
  • the cultural underpinnings of medieval accountability
  • prosopography: background and career of administrators, from auditing clerks to castellans
  • methodological advances, from manuscript studies to sociological frameworks
  • the transfer of administrative models across medieval Europe

The colloquium papers, which will collected in an edited volume published with an international academic press, should reflect original, unpublished research. The authors will be given the opportunity to revise their contributions for publication.

Papers can be presented in English or French; if delivered in French, it is the author’s responsibility to have the paper translated into English for publication.

For inquiries, contact Ionut Epurescu-Pascovici or Roberto Biolzi

Proposals of circa 300 words, outlining the source material, methodology, and anticipated findings, should be emailed to Ionut Epurescu-Pascovici by 30 March 2018.

The organisers will provide three nights hotel accommodation and help defray travel expenses.

Project Description:

This project focuses on an unjustly neglected corpus of sources, the fiscal accounts (computi) of the castellanies, or basic administrative units, of late-medieval Savoy. It deploys a holistic model of analysis that can fully capitalize on the unusually detailed computi in order to illuminate some of the key developments in late-medieval history, from administrative and fiscal reforms and the progress of institutional accountability to the socioeconomic decline and recovery from the late-thirteenth to the late-fourteenth century. More broadly, research into these topics aims to contribute to our understanding of the late-medieval origins of European modernity.

The advances of pragmatic literacy, record-keeping, and auditing practices are analysed with the aid of social scientific theories of practice. By comparing the Savoyard computi with their sources of inspiration, notably the Anglo-Norman pipe rolls, the project aims to highlight the creative adaptation of imported administrative models, thereby contributing to our knowledge of institutional transfers in European history. The project proposes an inclusive frame of analysis in which the computi are read against the evidence from enfeoffment charters, castellany surveys (extente), and the records of direct taxation (subsidia).

The project focuses on a sample of castellanies from the heartland of the Savoyard principality, analysed by the Principal Investigator. Two postdoctoral researchers will study the records of a few other castellanies from outside the bailiwick of Savoy as test cases for the Principal Investigator’s analysis.

Curious Travellers: Thomas Pennant, Travel and the Making of Enlightenment Knowledge

A conference exploring the many legacies of the C18th naturalist and travel writer Thomas Pennant (1726-98) at the Linnean Society, Burlington House, Friday 16 November 2018

With a separate evening event at Dr Johnson’s House, Gough Square, Thursday 15 November, details below.

Organized by the AHRC-funded ‘Curious Travellers’ project in conjunction with the Linnean Society.

For more information SEE HERE.

10.00: Coffee and arrivals  

10.15: Welcome from Isabelle Charmantier (Linnean Society) and Mary-Ann Constantine and Nigel Leask (Curious Travellers Project)  

10.30-12.30 Session One
Short presentations and launch of online edited texts by project members:
  • Luca Guariento, ‘Curious Travellers and Curious Editors: XML and 0ther scary things behind the curtain.’  
  • Alex Deans, ‘Dialogue and encounter: introducing the Curious Travellers Scottish editions’  
  • Ffion Mair Jones, 'This delicious frenzy...': The Correspondence of Thomas Pennant and Richard Bull, 1773–1798.  
  • Elizabeth Edwards, ‘‘Bag men, Itinerant Artists and sorts of fleeting customers”: voice and narrative in manuscript Welsh tours.’  

12.30-1.30 Lunch and a chance to see the exhibition of natural history books by Pennant and his contemporaries  

1.30-3.00 Session Two
  • [Short presentation]: Kirsty McHugh, ‘Anne Lister’s Tours of Wales and Scotland’.  
  • Miranda Lewis, ‘Mapping Lines of Communication: Thomas Pennant in Early Modern Letters Online’  
  • Edwin Rose, 'From Specimen to Print: Thomas Pennant's British Zoology, 1766-1812'  
  • Dòmhnaill Uilleam Stiùbhart, ‘Rev. John Stuart of Luss: pioneer lichenologist, Biblical translator, 'pedantic coxcomb'’  

3.15-3.30 Tea-break

3.30–5:00 Session Three
  • [Short presentation:] Professor Debarati Bandyopadhyay (Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, India), ‘Thomas Pennant and Ecocriticism’.  
  • John Bonehill, 'Scotland's portraiture: the illustration of Pennant's Tours'  
  • Carl Thompson, ‘Women travellers and their (many) contributions to late 18th and early 19th science’  
  • Concluding remarks: Nigel Leask and Mary-Ann Constantine  

Registration: £25 waged with buffet lunch (£20 without lunch); £15 (£10) unwaged. For more information contact (01970 636543) or visit

Register here  (01970 636543)

Dr Isabelle Charmantier
Head of Collections
The Linnean Society of London, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BF, UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 7434 4479 EXT 223 | | Charity Reference No. 220509

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Thursday 15 November

Note that on the evening before the conference (15th November) there will be a separate ticketed event at Dr Johnson’s House, Gough Square, when Professor Murray Pittock and Professor Nigel Leask will give talks on the Scottish Tours of Dr Johnson and Thomas Pennant. This accompanies our current exhibition “Curious Travellers”: Dr Johnson and Thomas Pennant on Tour, at Dr Johnson’s House, 5 Oct- 12 Jan 2018.

CALL FOR PAPERS: Shakespeare Jahrbuch 156 (2020) “Shakespeare and Translation”

Shakespeare Jahrbuch, the yearbook of the German Shakespeare Society, first appeared in 1865. Published by Kröner Verlag (Stuttgart), it is a peer-reviewed academic journal, containing scholarly articles in English and German, as well as a book and a theatre review section. Jahrbuch is listed in the European Reference Index for the Humanities and Social Sciences (ERIH Plus).

The 2020 volume of Shakespeare Jahrbuch will be a special issue on “Translation”. The editorial board invites essays on the following topics:
  • bilingualism and translation in Shakespeare’s plays early modern translations of Shakespeare’s plays
  • Shakespeare’s global travels
  • translation and transculturation
  • domesticating and/or foreignizing translation strategies
  • Shakespeare in translation, adaptation, and tradaptation 
  • Shakespeare in modern English
  • mono-, bi-, and multilingual Shakespeares
  • re-translating Shakespeare
  • the difficulties of translating / untranslatability
  • lost in translation
  • teaching Shakespeare in translation
  • Shakespeare and translation theories
  • the role of the translator
  • Shakespeare’s translators
  • the history of Shakespeare translation
  • translating for/on the stage
  • Shakespeare in sub- and/or surtitles
  • translation and the Shakespeare industry
  •  …

For more information, please contact the general editor of Shakespeare Jahrbuch, Sabine Schülting (email: The deadline for submitting articles is 30 April 2019.

London Renaissance Seminar: Thinking Upon Death - Wills and Bereavement Writing in Renaissance London

Saturday 10th November 2018, 13:00-17:00
Keynes Library, Birkbeck School of Arts

Speakers: Professor Vanessa Harding, Professor Kate Hodgkin and Professor Ralph Houlbrooke

13.00 Arrival and coffee

13.15  Welcome and Introduction. Anna Cusack (Birkbeck)

14.20  Vanessa Harding, ‘ “I bequeath my body to the earth”: wills, willmaking and funeral planning’

14.50  Kate Hodgkin, ‘Death, melancholy and the languages of loss in early modern spiritual autobiography’

15:20  Questions

15.30  Refreshments

15.50 Ralph Houlbrooke, ‘Funerals and commemoration of former Lord Mayors of London, c. 1550- c. 1650

16.20 Questions

16.30. Panel discussion

17:00  Close

The London Renaissance Seminar (LRS) is a forum for the discussion of all aspects of early modern history, literature, and culture. It meets regularly at Birkbeck School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square. Anyone with a serious academic interest in the Renaissance is welcome and no registration is necessary.

For further information about this seminar contact Sue Wiseman or Elizabeth Scott-Baumann

To join the LRS mailing list, please contact Tom Healy
Twitter: @LondRenaissance

London Spinoza Circle

At our meeting on Thursday 1st November, 3:00-5:00pm, we are pleased to have Mogens Lærke (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) who will speak on:

The Apostolic Style: Spinoza on Fraternal Advice and the Freedom to Philosophize

Bloomsbury Room (G.35), Ground Floor, South Block, Senate House, London WC1E 7HU


In this paper, I discuss a chapter of the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus that is rarely commented on, namely Chapter XI. It is particular for the TTP in that it is exclusively dedicated to the interpretation of the New Testament, more specifically, the Apostles' Letters. I will show how, in the first part of that chapter, Spinoza argues that the epistolary style of the apostles, and the discursive room it establishes, can serve as a paradigm for the exercise of the “liberty to philosophize” that he shall proceed to defend in Tractatus, chap. XX.

We are planning to hold two meetings this term and are currently organising the schedule for the remainder of the academic year.

Thursday 6th December 2018, 3 – 5pm, Room number to be confirmed.
Clare Carlisle (King’s College London)
George Eliot’s Spinoza.

No registration is required and meetings are open to all.