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
Seaver Classrooms 1 & 2
Lunch will be provided to those who rsvp to email@example.com by Monday, January 28, 2013.
Bradford Bouley (organizer), University of Southern California
A. Katie Harris, UC Davis
Jonathan Seitz, Drexel University
Lydia Barnett, University of Michigan