A lunch workshop with John Slater, University of Colorado, Boulder. Lunch will be provided. RSVP to Ryan Zurowski. Location: Building 260, Room 237.
Abstract: When we think about the relationship between artistic or literary representation and scientific investigation in early modern Europe, we almost unquestioningly posit the existence of an experimental tradition. In other words, we expect people to be doing science if it is to have cultural currency. But it doesn’t work out quite that way in Spain. This talk takes alchemy as an example. Alchemy has an important place in Spanish sermons published after 1670, but none of the alchemists considered to be authoritative are Spanish. In Alonso López Magdaleno’s biography of St. Rose of Viterbo he approvingly describes the process of producing roses from the ashes of others as “experimentada chimica,” citing the works of Fortunio Liceti, Daniel Sennert, and perhaps most surprisingly Libavius. López Magdaleno invokes alchemy in part to establish the superiority of the Franciscan St. Rose of Viterbo over the Dominican St. Rose of Lima. Inter-order conflicts, the relevance of natural historical inquiry to the devotional practices of the post-Tridentine Spain, and the acceptable limits of Baroque scholarship all come to a head in López Magdaleno’s work. Examining the disjuncture between talking about alchemy and doing alchemy, this workshop will consider ways in which Spanish literary history can help us reexamine interdisciplinary approaches to a variety of early modern problems.