Making Knowledge in Early Modern Europe: Practices, Objects, and Texts, 1400-1800

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The fruits of knowledge—such as books, data, and ideas—tend to generate far more attention than the ways in which knowledge is produced and acquired. Correcting this imbalance, Making Knowledge in Early Modern Europe brings together a wide-ranging yet tightly integrated series of essays that explore how knowledge was obtained and demonstrated in Europe during an intellectually explosive four centuries, when standard methods of inquiry took shape across several fields of intellectual pursuit.

Composed by scholars in disciplines ranging from the history of science to art history to religious studies, the pieces collected here look at the production and consumption of knowledge as a social process within many different communities. They focus, in particular, on how the methods employed by scientists and intellectuals came to interact with the practices of craftspeople and practitioners to create new ways of knowing. Examining the role of texts, reading habits, painting methods, and countless other forms of knowledge making, this volume brilliantly illuminates the myriad ways these processes affected and were affected by the period’s monumental shifts in culture and learning.

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Editorial Reviews

Deborah Harkness
“Pamela Smith and Benjamin Schmidt have gathered together a wide-ranging and provocative set of original essays that successfully demonstrate how contingent the process of making knowledge was during a period of fundamental epistemological change. This is a finely crafted and conceptualized collection.”
Simon Schaffer
“The major transformations of knowledge and social order in early modern Europe have long posed exciting and challenging problems for historians. This carefully organized new collection addresses these problems by focusing on the ways in which knowledge was then produced and how the status of knowledge was thus changed. Contributors show impressively how a much broader range of kinds of knowledge must be studied, juxtaposing the ways of knowing of painters and travelers, of chemists and midwives. They also show how a decisive aspect of knowledge making depended on innovativeand intense relations between scholars and artisans: traditions of recipe-making and of artful design were essential to the most important developments in ways of knowing.”
H-Net Review - Michael J. Sauter
"This text is recommended for both specialists and non-specialists alike because of both the breadth of the contributions and the key lesson that it teaches: namely, that knowledge can be the result of a bewildering and surprising variety of processes. . . . In general, all the contributions make for stimulating reading and serve as useful introductions to current debates and problems."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226763293
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 4/22/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Pamela H. Smith is professor of history at Columbia University and the author of two books, including The Body of the Artisan, also published by the University of Chicago Press. Benjamin Schmidt is associate professor of history at the University of Washington and the author of Innocence Abroad.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction Knowledge and Its Making in Early Modern Europe Pamela H. Smith Smith, Pamela H. Bentamin Schmidt Schmidt, Bentamin 1

Making Knowledge From the Margins

1 Women Engineers and the Culture of the Pyrenees: Indigenous Knowledge and Engineering in Seventeenth-Century France Chandra Mukerji Mukerji, Chandra 19

2 Visual Representation as Instructional Text: Jan van Eyck and The Ghent Altarpiece Linda Seidel Seidel, Linda 45

3 Explosive Affinities: Pyrotechnic Knowledge in Early Modern Europe Simon Werrett Werrett, Simon 68

4 Naming and Knowing: The Global Politics of Eighteenth-Century Botanical Nomenclatures Londa Schiebinger Schiebinger, Londa 90

5 Practices of Reading and Writing Novel Knowledge: Innovation in Dutch Literature and Society of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries Herman Pleij Pleij, Herman 109

6 Watches, Diary Writing, and the Search for Self-Knowledge in the Seventeenth Century Rudolf Dekker Dekker, Rudolf 127

7 The Moral of the Story: Children's Reading and the Catechism of Nature around 1800 Arianne Baggerman Baggerman, Arianne 143

8 Method as Knowledge: Scribal Theology, Protestantism, and the Reinvention of Shorthand in Sixteenth-Century England Lori Anne Ferrell Ferrell, Lori Anne 163

9 Boyle's Essay: Genre and the Making of Early Modern Knowledge Scott Black Black, Scott 178

The Reform of Knowledge

10 Making Sense of Medical Collections in Early Modern Holland: The Uses of Wonder Claudia Swan Swan, Claudia 199

11 In Search of True Knowledge: Ole Worm [1588-1654) and the New Philosophy Ole Peter Grell Grell, Ole Peter 214

12 Stone Gods and Counter-ReformationKnowledges Carina L. Johnson Johnson, Carina L. 233

13 Temple and Tabernacle: The Place of Religion in Early Modern England Jonathan Sheehan Sheehan, Jonathan 248

14 The Fiscal Logic of Enlightened German Science Andre Wakefield Wakefield, Andre 273

Notes 287

List of Contributors 347

Index 351

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