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2015-2016 Research Theme:

Interdisciplinarity in Historical Perspective

People working in today’s universities frequently emphasize innovative interdisciplinary scholarship, but they often forget that it is the disciplines themselves that are innovations—that it is only from a modern perspective that “arts” and “sciences” are discrete categories. Writers, artists, scientists, and philosophers from earlier periods took interdisciplinarity for granted in ways that seem almost impossible now, from Leonardo da Vinci’s stunning drawings of birds and flying machines to Sir Francis Bacon’s utopian fiction about the institutionalization of experimental science, the “New Atlantis.” This lecture series highlights the foundational connections among natural science, philosophy, arts and letters in early modernity. We also raise the question of how and why these fields diverged: when did natural philosophy forget its philosophical roots? When were the humanities imagined as distinct from experimental sciences? When did poetry part company with physics?

Supported by a generous grant from the Provost’s “Year of the Humanities in the University,” our collaborative research group will sponsor a series of reading groups, seminars, and lectures on this theme.

Upcoming Events



Domenico Bertoloni Meli - Mechanism Historicized

(Indiana University)

Lecture Series:  Monday, March 14 – Thursday, March 17, 2016

Mechanism and Visualization

Monday, March 14, 2016

4:00 PM

University Club, Lecture Room A

This lecture will discuss the implications of different forms of visualization,starting with Andreas Vesalius and moving through the late 17th century, with a special focus on Robert Hooke.

The Very Word Mechanism

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

4:00 PM

Humanities Center, Cathedral of Learning 602

Framing Mechanisms

Thursday, March 17, 2016

4:00 PM

Center for Philosophy of Science, Cathedral of Learning 817

Domenico Bertoloni Meli is Professor of History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine at Indiana University. He has received many fellowships and grants, most recently a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. He has also been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, worked at the Max Planck Institute for History of Science in Berlin, and received fellowships and grants from Indiana University, the Dibner Institute, the National Science Foundation, the Wellcome Trust for the History of Medicine, and Jesus College, Cambridge. Professor Meli has widespread research interests, including the mathematical and medical disciplines from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, especially mechanics and anatomy. His most recent book is Mechanism, Experiment, Disease: Marcello Malpighi and Seventeenth-Century Anatomy (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011).

{View the event flyer here}