HPS Colloquium: How Should We Think Historically About Early Modern Experimentation?

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Location: 201 O'Shaughnessy Hall

Join us as Dr. Evan Ragland shares his recent research!  We meet every Tuesday before Fall Break at 4 PM for coffee, snacks, and a chance to catch up before the presentation begins.

Just about everyone writing on the subject of the “rise” or “development” or “origin” of scientific experimentation takes the early modern period in Europe (ca. 1500-1750) as a major—if not the crucial—period of change. In recent decades, historians have offered increasingly varied and even divergent descriptions of important threads in this long history, including contrasting and contradictory explanations. I plan to offer a brief, selective tour of some representative and important works in the secondary literature, and some thoughts on how historians write about early modern experimentation. While embracing pluralism, I hope to offer some suggestions for consolidation. Mostly, I’m looking forward to hearing any and all ideas about how to make sense of all this, and where to go from here.

Dr. Ragland is an assistant professor of history at Notre Dame.  His interests are in the History of Science and Medicine, especially in early modern Europe; the History of Experiment;  and the History of Alchemy and Chymistry.