CALL FOR PAPERS: XXXVII Scientific Instrument Symposium

3 - 7 September 2018
Leiden and Haarlem, The Netherlands

The XXXVII Symposium of the Scientific Instrument Commission will take place from the 3rd to the 7th of September 2018 in Leiden and Haarlem, the Netherlands. The general topic of the conference is Instruments and the ‘Empire of Man over Things’. In The New Organon (1620), Francis Bacon famously wrote that “the empire of man over things depends wholly on the arts and sciences. For we cannot command nature except by obeying her” [Works 8 (1863), 162-63]. How have instruments of the “arts and sciences” been deployed in efforts to “command nature” for social, economic, political or personal purposes? How have instruments entered public works projects (waterways, transport, energy, pollution control), economic projects (mining, agriculture, factories), or political projects (military, public health, exploration, cadastral surveying)? Are different instruments required when the goal is not only knowing but also controlling?

We welcome proposals for 20-minute papers that fit in any of the following three subtopics.

1. Water works and technics is inspired by the fact that the SIC conference is taking place in the Netherlands and thus water works are very appropriate. Proposals in this session could range from locks, building of dykes, to all kind of measuring instruments used for water works or technics. Also social aspects may be the subject of a paper, as for large projects a lot of coordination, politics, economics is needed.

2. Electricity nods to the fact that Teylers Museum is famous for its huge electricity machine and Rijksmuseum Boerhaave has also large collection of electrical instruments. Proposals in this session could range from static electricity toys, human electricity to powerplants. Also economic aspects may be the subject of a paper, such as the electrification of the homes, cars and electrical energy.

3. Citizens instrumental science proceeds from the idea that in the eighteenth century Dutch societies of interested upper middle class citizens flourished. Teylers is only one of them. In other countries people also gathered to see demonstrations by Desaguliers and others. What kind of organisations were they and what instruments were used and what for? Who joined these gatherings and what came of it? What was their relationship with the universities? Proposals in this session will address to these questions and other aspects of scientific societies.

Furthermore, the SIC invites members to organize other sessions that explore the general theme. Of course we also welcome proposals for sessions, papers or posters on any topic dealing with the material culture of science.

For the first time the SIC will include pitch sessions at the Dutch symposium. Speakers have to put forward their point of view of a subject in a short time. After 5 pitches we turn to an in-depth debate. SIC 2018 welcomes proposals for pitches related to the following two topics.

1. End of the SIC? In the past, historians of science took material heritage for granted and did not often make it a topic of analysis. Studies on the history of science and the activities related to scientific instruments (research, preservation, promotion) have been separated from each other for a long time. One of the main goals of the SIC in its early decades was to put this material heritage on the map. Nowadays more and more examples of interactions between the two fields appear: some historians of science base their researches and/or their lectures on scientific instruments, they co-curate exhibitions with curators, etc. So has the SIC done its job well? Should we step aside now? Proposals in this session should contain pitches with short and precise arguments and should contribute to an in-depth discussion on the future of the SIC.

2. Instruments that failed, became obsolete or forgotten. Cases of instruments that were regarded as failures have occurred throughout the centuries. But there are also cases of instruments that were relevant in their own time, but turned out to be no part of the history. And there are cases of research (instruments) which led to dead ends. Why do some instruments fail or fall into oblivion? What can we learn from such instruments? Can their study enrich the history of science? Should they be displayed and how? Proposals in this session should contain pitches with short and precise arguments and should contribute to an in-depth discussion on the role of these instruments in museums and the history of science.

The final deadline for the abstracts is March 1, 2018. The Symposium will be hosted jointly by Rijksmuseum Boerhaave in Leiden and the Teyler's Museum in Haarlem with visits to nearby cities and collections. The preliminary program can be found at the conference website.

The Bodleian Libraries Centre for the Study of the Book summer school: “The Scientific Image”

25-29 July 2018.  Course convener: Roger Gaskell.   Application form (doc)


Origination and transfer of images; relief, intaglio and lithographic printing; the role of the author, draughtsman and printmaker; formal analysis of images; text-image relationships; bibliographical description and cataloguing; the history of scientific, technical, medical, and natural history illustration.


This course examines the production and use of printed pictures in scientific books from the incunable period (before 1501) to the end of the nineteenth century. Diagrams and pictures are not ancillary to scientific texts: they are part and parcel of the intellectual content; ‘illustration’ is a misleading if unavoidable term. To understand the role of images, this course looks at how the production of images affects how and what theories, facts or observations can be communicated, and can be part of the making of scientific knowledge. What an author sketches or an artist draws will often be enhanced and refined in collaboration with the author in the print making process. By analysing the formal qualities of the printed image we can ask: what visual strategies of description, analysis, explanation and persuasion are deployed? We will also consider the description and cataloguing of the illustrated scientific book. The course will provide an introduction to the history of scientific illustration in the physical sciences, technology, medicine and natural history.

This course is intended for those with a strong interest in the history of scientific books and printed images. Some previous training in either art history or the history of science and the basics of analytical and descriptive bibliography will enable students to get the most out of this course, but neither one is a prerequisite. No language skills are required. In their personal statements, applicants should describe the nature of their interest in the history of the technical image and explain briefly the purposes to which they propose to put the knowledge gained from the course.


‘Printed mathematical instruments of the 16th century, bound and unbound’
Jim Bennett will discuss the use of printed mathematical instruments in the 16th century, paper machines that were operational instruments on the page of the book, or intended to be separated from the book and possibly pasted on card or wood, or even cut from the book and used independently.

Taught seminars will take place in the Bodleian Library where participants will examine original drawings, original printing blocks and plates and printed books from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries.

Printing demonstrations, led by Richard Lawrence at the Bodleian Bibliographical Press, will provide a first-hand understanding of relief, intaglio and lithographic printing.
Visits will be made to the Sherardian Library of Plant taxonomy and the Museum of the History of Science to look at original drawings, specimens and scientific instruments.

Roger Gaskell is an antiquarian bookseller specializing in scientific medical and technical books. He has lectured on scientific book illustration at the Bodleian Summer School and teaches a regular seminar, ‘Science in print’ in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, and a regular course at the Rare Book School in Virginia.

Jim Bennett is former Director of the Museum of the History of Science at the University of Oxford and curator of the Whipple Museum, University of Cambridge. His publications include London’s Leonardo: the life and work of Robert Hooke.


The fee of £500 covers tuition, refreshments and lunches. Note that accommodation is not included in the fees and securing accommodation is the responsibility of the student.

A limited number of reduced-price places are available for postgraduate students at UK universities. If you wish to be considered for one of these places, please indicate this on your application form.

A non-refundable deposit of £150 is required within two weeks of notification of admission.

The balance of the course fee is due by 25 May 2018. If you are unable to attend the course after paying the balance of the fee, this is refundable only in extraordinary circumstances.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the course is full. Your application should include a cv and a one-page letter indicating how you plan to use the knowledge gained on the course.

If you are a postgraduate student at a UK institution and wish to be considered for one of the reduced-price places, please indicate this on your application form.

Those accepted will be notified as soon as the applications have been approved.

Dr Alexandra Franklin, Project Co-ordinator Bodleian Libraries Centre for the Study of the Book Bodleian Library Broad Street Oxford OX1 3BG

E-mail: Alexandra Franklin

CALL FOR PAPERS: Scientiae: Disciplines of Knowing in the Early Modern World

16-19 May 2018

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Minneapolis, USA
Keynotes: Surekha Davies (Western Connecticut State University) and Vladimir Urbanek (Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic)

The Programme Committee for the 7th Annual Scientiae Conference invites submissions for individual papers or special panels on the disciplines of knowing in the early modern world (roughly 1400-1800), to be held at the University of Minnesota, 16-19 May 2018.

The major premise of the Scientiae Conference series is that knowledge during the early modern period was pre-disciplinary, involving complex mixtures of theories, practices and objects, which had yet to be separated into their modern ‘scientific’ configurations. Although centred on attempts to understand and control the natural world, Scientiae addresses natural philosophy, natural history, and the scientiae mixtae within a wide range of related fields, including but not restricted to Biblical exegesis, medicine, artisan practice and theory, logic, humanism, alchemy, magic, witchcraft, demonology, divinatory practices, astronomy, astrology, music, antiquarianism, experimentation and commerce. The conference and the sessions are interdisciplinary and intended to foster debate, one of Scientiae’s defining values.

While the Programme Committee welcomes proposals for 20-25 minute papers from any disciplinary perspective, we would like to encourage submissions that seek to examine modes of early modern knowledge formation and application that cross traditional national, geographic, linguistic or intellectual borders.

For 2018, we would also like to invite proposals for a series of special 2-hour interdisciplinary panels. These should be organised by theme and include three speakers and a commentator who treat the issue from different disciplinary perspectives.

The Program Committee welcomes sessions that present the scholarship of members at various stages of their careers. However, graduate student speakers must be advanced students who have completed coursework, examinations, and much of their dissertation research, and expect to defend their dissertations in the next two years.

Individual papers should include a 250-word abstract and a 1-page CV. Panel proposals should consists of a single 250-word description of the theme under discussion, and three 100-word outlines of how each paper will contribute to this theme, and from what discipline/angle.

Email proposals to: scientiaeminnesota [at]

Deadline: 25 November 2017.

We will notify all contributors by 5 January.

CALL FOR PAPERS: The Second Annual Early Modern Women Writers' Colloquium (2018)

At the 6th Annual Othello's Island Conference 2018
Centre for Visual Arts and Research, Nicosia, Cyprus
25 to 27 March 2018

Keynote lecture by: Professor David Norbrook

Full information at

Lead Convenors: Dr. Stella Achilleos (University of Cyprus) and Professor James Fitzmaurice (Northern Arizona University)

About the Conference: We are very pleased to announce that our keynote speaker at the Second Annual Early Modern Women Writers' Colloquium in 2018 will be Professor David Norbrook, Emeritus Merton Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford, who will deliver a lecture titled 'Providence and Displacement: Writing Lucy Hutchinson's Life'.

Dedicated to women writers from the period 1500 to 1700 (approximate dates), the Early Modern Women Writers' Colloquium forms a strand within the annual interdisciplinary "Othello's Island" conference on Byzantine, Medieval, and Renaissance studies. The strand was held informally at the fourth Othello's Island conference in 2015, and became a formal feature in 2016 at the fifth Othello's Island in 2016. This developing tradition continues at the sixth Othello's Island Conference in 2018, where we will again welcome papers on women writers in all languages of the early modern period, with a particular emphasis on the writers Mary Wroth, Margaret Cavendish, Aphra Behn, and their contemporaries. The strand includes papers on women writers themselves, but also associated topics, such as the representation of women and women writers in work by male writers of the period, women publishers, and also the popular round table discussion, held outside under the olive trees, as a true academia, in the courtyard garden at CVAR.

If you would like to submit a paper to the Early Modern Women Writers strand of Othello's Island, please follow the instructions below. If you have any questions, please do contact us. Participants in the Early Modern Women Writers strand can, of course, attend all the other papers and events of the Othello's Island Conference, and we encourage participants to do so. The Early Modern Women Writers strand is held in association with the International Margaret Cavendish Society.

Full Papers (20 minutes plus questions)
If you are interested in giving a talk at the conference please submit a proposal for a paper. Standard papers are 20 minutes long, followed by 5 or 10 minutes for questions. Proposals for papers should comprise a cover sheet showing:

Your title (eg. Mr, Ms, Dr, Prof. etc.) and full name
Your institutional affiliation (if any)
Your postal address, email address and telephone number
The title of your proposed paper

With this you should send a proposal/abstract for your paper of no more than 300 words and a copy of your CV/resume to with the subject line EMWW 2018.

All papers must be delivered in English and in person by the author of the paper. We cannot accommodate speakers wishing to present using Skype (or similar), or proxy presentations.

Deadline for submissions: 22 December 2017.

Please visit our website at before submitting your proposal.

Annual Milton Lecture 2018: The Starry Messenger: Milton v. the New Science

The Milton Lecture is organised by the Friends of Milton's Cottage

Venue: Mercers Hall, Ironmonger Lane, London EC2
Date: 15 March 2018, at 1800
Speaker: Dr William Poole, fellow of New College, Oxford

Admission donation £5.

Further details available from Dr K C Sugden