Manipuating Flora. Gardens as Laboratories in the Renaissance and Early Modern Europe
Venue: Institute for Research in the Humanities, University of Bucharest, Romania
Date: January 21–22, 2016
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.
Thursday, January 21
09.15–9.40 – Welcome: Authorities & Minister of Culture of Romania
09.45–10.45 – Florike Egmond (Leiden): "Garden experimentation by 16th-century naturalists and collectors, and its role in the development of botany as a science"
10.45-11.30 – María M. Carrión (Emory): "Botánica to botica: Translation and Localization of Botanical and Pharmaceutical Knowledge in 16th-century Spain"
11.30–12.45 – Visit to the Greenhouses of the Botanical Garden
12.45–13.45 – Hiro Hirai (Radboud Nijmegen): "Plants and Signatures in Paracelsian Magic, Chymistry and Science"
15.15-16.15 – Doina-Cristica Rusu (Bucharest): "Plants as Scientific Instruments in Natural Magic and Natural Philosophy"
16.15-17.00 – Dana Jalobeanu (Bucharest): "From recipes to creative experiments: tests, trials and learning by doing in Francis Bacon's Sylva Sylvarum"
17.30–18.15 – Luigi Guerrini (Galileo Museum): "Complexio and periculum in Federico Cesi's botanical writings and drawings"
18.15–19.00 – Oana Matei (Vasile Goldiş U Arad): "Mastering the method of experimentation in the Hartlib Circle: the case of germination"
Friday, January 22
09.15–10.15 – Cesare Pastorino (TU Berlin): "Fructiferous Experiments: the Baconian Garden as a Laboratory"
10.15–11.00 – Sarah Cawthorne (York): "Experimenting with 'Garden Discours': Growing knowledge in Thomas Browne's Garden of Cyrus"
11.00–11.45 – Michael Deckard (Lenoir-Rhyne U/U Bucharest): "Of the beard of a wild oat: Cavendish and Hooke on the microscope"
11.45–12.45 – Visit to the Museum of the Botanical Garden
12.45–13.45 – Antonio Clericuzio (Roma Tre): "The palingenesis of plants in the 17th century: Athanasius Kircher and Robert Boyle on corpuscles, seminal principles and volatile salts"
15.15–16.00 – Lucie Čermáková (Charles U): "Athanasius Kircher and vegetal magnetism"
16.00–16.45 – Fabrizio Baldassarri (Forschungszentrum Gotha/Inst Res Humanities): "René Descartes and the mechanization of nature: Vegetative Soul/Vegetative Power"
17.15–18.00 – Alexandru Mexi (Bucharest): "Building gardens with meanings: The symbolical role of vegetation in the creation of landscape design in Eastern and Western Europe"
18.00–18.45 – Alette Fleischer (Amsterdam): "The changing nature of archiving plants"