Visual and Material Culture 2012-2013

Seminar Leader: Daniela Bleichmar, University of Southern California

Model Lives: Saintly Anatomy, Moving Automata, and Ideal Societies in Early Modern Europe

Wednesday, October 31, 2012
USC, University Park Campus
SOS 250

Lunch will be provided to those who rsvp to by October 25, 2012.


Brad Bouley, Provost's Postdoctoral Scholar, USC History
"You Gotta Have Guts: Anatomy as Proof of Sanctity in Early Modern Europe"

Jessica Keating,
Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Early Modern Visual Culture, USC Art History
"Empire on the Move: Early Modern German Automata"

Julianne Werlin,
Provost's Postdoctoral Scholar, USC English
"Francis Bacon and the Misinterpretation of Reality"

Event is co-sponsored by the USC Research Cluster in Science, Technology, and Society, and the Visual Studies Research Institute.

Proving the Supernatural: Belief and Nature in Early Modern Europe

What do witches and miracles have to do with science? The obvious answer would seem to be “nothing”! However, in the early modern world unusual events such as bewitchments, resurrections, and monstrous births presented unique cases that natural philosophers—proto-scientists in modern parlance—seized upon as part of an attempt to define the boundaries of the natural world. One paper presented in this workshop noted that early modern investigators used a variety of experimental methods in testing the reality of saintly relics; another demonstrated that physicians testifying before the Inquisition in Venice tried very hard to separate their personal beliefs from what they saw as their professional obligations. In many ways the attempt to understand the supernatural preceded and mirrored the techniques for discovering the laws of the natural world. Furthermore, for contemporaries, to understand the supernatural was even more important than understanding the natural. Thus, in looking at how early modern individuals attempted to “prove” the supernatural, this seminar uncovered what belief, expertise, and community meant to contemporaries.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Huntington Library
Seaver Classrooms 1 & 2

Lunch will be provided to those who rsvp to by Monday, January 28, 2013.
Program flyer

Bradford Bouley (organizer), University of Southern California
A. Katie Harris, UC Davis
Jonathan Seitz, Drexel University
Lydia Barnett, University of Michigan

Animals and Anthropocentrism in the Early Modern World

This workshop at the Huntington Library brought together four scholars whose work focuses on the period between 1400 and 1700 and on a range of geographical regions and cultural artifacts. The papers considered the consequences of anthropomorphism, literal versus allegorical representations of animals, the boundaries between humanity and animality, and the animal’s complex role in crystallizing a distinct brand of early modern anthropocentrism.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Huntington Library
Seaver Classrooms 1 & 2


Jessica Keating, (organizer) University of Southern California
Katie Chenoweth, Washington and Lee University
Holly Dugan, George Washington University
Christina Normore, Northwestern University
Zeb Tortorici, New York University