Experimenting the Early Modern Elements

Experimenting the Early Modern Elements

johann jakob scheuzer fenestra coeli apertae physica sacra

An event hosted by the interdisciplinary ‘Writing Technologies’ TORCH Network

A ‘split’ study day held on Teams over three consecutive afternoons (30th March-1st April 2021, 3-6pm GMT), exploring how early modern developments in arts and techniques conceptualised, confronted, and attempted to manipulate nature as understood in the form of the four ‘classical’ elements: earth, water, air, and fire. Participants will discuss literary, technical, and artistic material, reflecting on the interrelated experimental and cultural significances of the four elements, and the relationships between them. These classic categories, though challenged and evolving, as we will see, throughout the early modern period, present a fruitful framework for the ‘Writing Technologies’ 
Network’s ongoing conversations on representation, analogy, imagination, inventions, and 

To register, please email: jennifer.oliver@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk by Friday, 26th March

More information about this project can be found on: 'Writing Technologies' TORCH Network



30th March, 3.00 - 6.00pm: Elemental Powers 
Short presentations gathered into two panels, interspersed with discussion, will consider elemental power(s), including the interrelation of elements, and the connections between elemental and other forms of power (social, cultural, colonial...). Speakers: Tina Asmussen (Ruhr University of Bochum/ German Mining Museum Bochum), Jennifer Oliver (University of Oxford), Jessica Stacey (University of Oxford), Marie Thebaud-Sorger (CNRS/ University of Oxford), Yelda Nasifoglu (University of Oxford).



31st March, 3.00 - 6.00pm: Elemental Objects
A session conceived of as a virtual ‘cabinet of curiosities’, in which a series of elemental objects will be presented and discussed. Object-presenters include researchers with a range of specialisms in literature and the history of science, technology, and medicine. Speakers: Jérôme Baudry (EPFL Lausanne), Ion-Gabriel Mihailescu (EPFL Lausanne), Simon Dumas Primbault (EPFL Lausanne), Emma Claussen (Cambridge), Vittoria Fallanca (Oxford), Rachel Hindmarsh (Oxford), Stephen Johnston (History of Science Museum, Oxford), John O'Brien (Durham), Wes Williams (Oxford, TORCH), Koen Vermeir (CNRS, Paris);


1st April, 3.00 - 6.00pm: Elemental Imaginaries 
Short presentations, interspersed with discussion, will consider the construction and evolution of imaginaries of the elemental across four centuries. Speakers: Alice Roullière (University of 
Oxford), Rob Iliffe (University of Oxford), Michael Drolet (University of Oxford). To be followed by a round-table discussion open to all participants.


This event is organised by TORCH, The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities, the Maison Française d'Oxford and the Faculty of Modern Languages.


Picture: Johann Jacob Scheuzer, Fenestra Coeli Apertae, Physica Sacra, 1731