Workshop: Artisans of the Surface

Artisans of the Surface in Early Modern Europe, 1450-1750


Taking place over two days (20-21 September 2018), this workshop focuses on the practices of a range of artisans (tailors, barbers, cooks, cheesemakers, gardeners, and agronomists) and their relationships with the fields of meteorology, botany, natural history, medicine, earth sciences, and veterinary medicine. These artisans and their practices shared a set of skills related to the observation and manipulation of human and non-human surfaces. We will explore how, and if, practical knowledge about the surface of things and bodies (and their storage and preservation in relation to specific environmental conditions) led to the concept of nature and matter as composed of layers, and how such a framework contributed to the demise of traditional Galenic and Aristotelian views on nature.

This workshop also aims at getting past the dichotomies between quantitative and qualitative knowledge and between natural philosophy and the arts, and so we intend to broaden the focus to include a set of artisans who have traditionally remained invisible from accounts of this ‘age of the new’. We will explore the many different ways in which ‘modern science’ emerged, the relationships between social and cognitive practices, and the contribution that non-mathematical sciences gave to the mental habits of observing, collecting, experimenting with, and manipulating natural matter.

Confirmed speakers are Emanuele Lugli (York) on tailors, Elaine Leong (MPIWG, Berlin) on domestic health practices, Bradford Bouley (UC Santa Barbara) on butchers, Maria Conforti (La Sapienza) on the surface of the earth, and Carolin Schmiz (EUI) on barber-surgeons. Sandra Cavallo (Royal Holloway) will offer final remarks.

Our Call for Papers is now open - see here for further details.

Once our call has closed and we have selected our speakers, the full programme will be published on these pages.

Details of how to register to attend the workshop will also appear here.

@RenSkinKCL #surfaceartisans

Image taken from Agostino Gallo, Le vinte giornate dell'agricoltura et de' piaceri della villa (Venice, 1572)