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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Simon R. E. Werrett
HIST 219
Seattle Campus

Science and the Arts in Early Modern Europe

Explores the role of artisanal craft practice and knowledge in the Scientific Revolution. Examines the artisanal world and its traditions of craft knowledge and follows the transmission of artisanal practice into the scholarly world of natural philosophy in the seventeenth century. Assesses the consequences for scientists and artisans.

Class description

When the modern sciences emerged in the seventeenth-century, they borrowed and learnt from existing practices. One of the most important was the tradition of artisanal crafts. Following recent innovative work in the history of science, this course follows the development of artisanal crafts such as painting, sculpture, mining, metallurgy, fortifications and gunnery in early modern Europe and considers their significance in the creation of new ‘experimental’ and ‘mechanical’ approaches to Nature in the seventeenth century. Examining the works and ideas of some well-known figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Francis Bacon, and some lesser-known artisans and natural philosophers, we will explore this relationship between artisanal and scientific knowledge, in addition to the complex culture of art and science in the early modern era. This entailed debates on the changing powers of art and nature, discussions of the relative status of theory and practice, changes in the worldview of the artisan, and sometimes tense relations between the artisan and the scholar. The course will be useful for students interested in the history of the sciences, the history of art, and labour history.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

This is a course for beginners - no background in history of science or art needed.

Class assignments and grading

Participants will be assessed by writing two short papers, a mid-term and final examination.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Stefanie M Starkovich
Date: 03/03/2005