Conference: Diagrams in Science, Science in Diagrams

  • Online event via Zoom
  • Beginn: 14.06.2021
  • Ende: 18.06.2021
  • Vortragende(r): Conference
  • Kontakt:
Conference: Diagrams in Science, Science in Diagrams
Diagrammatic forms of visualisation are ubiquitous in scientific publications, as well as in popular mediations of scientific contents. Every computer interface relies on diagrammatic forms, combining textual and graphical elements. Diagrams abstract and encode information. They are indispensable in many scientific contexts, and, together with charts and graphs, also in the daily media, reaching a wide audience of experts and non-experts.

As natural and familiar as these abstract forms of representing information are to us, they are products of many historical developments. Their historical roots may go back to prehistoric epochs. However, the historical integration of diagrams in scientific contexts is relatively recent. Even if these developments with regard to Western cultures have their origin in antiquity and were significantly developed further in the sciences of the Middle Ages, the early modern period can be considered the first flourishing phase of the diagram in practically all areas of the sciences of that time.

This conference proposes to trace this historical development in the early modern period. It takes a truly interdisciplinary approach when talking about a timespan of roughly 500 years (1300-1800) across all early modern sciences, from Architecture to Zodiac men in medicine. The conference brings together research on the culture of the diagram in various sciences of the epoch to form a large overall picture.

This conference aims at tracing the emergences and the disruptions of traditions of diagrams in all fields of scientific theory and practice, e.g. (but not restricted to) geometry, astronomy, medicine, philosophy, alchemy, law, theology, and music.

The conference will address, among others, questions such as the following:

1. Do the diagrams under investigation come from a precise tradition or do they form the foundation of such a tradition?

2. What is the scientific/disciplinary context of the diagrams under investigation and how do they relate to it?

3. What is the aim of the diagrams under investigation (illustration, explanation, demonstration, etc.)?

4. How does the medium carrying diagrams under investigation impact their form and role (print, manuscript)?

5. What are the most intriguing visual/graphical features to be found in the diagrams under investigation?

6. How do the diagrams under investigation interact with the text and which vocabulary is used to refer to the diagrams?

7. What justifies the diagrams under investigation to be labelled as ‘diagrams’ (and not ‘tables’, ‘maps’, etc.) and what is a reasonable demarcation line here?

8. How do the diagrams under investigation relate to scientific practices (experiments, taking measures, etc.)?

Key-note speakers:

Kathleen Crowther (University of Oklahoma)

Christoph Lüthy (Radboud University Nijmegen)

Benjamin Wardhaugh (University of Oxford)


Solène Baron (Université Paris-Diderot)

Patricia Pia Bornus (Universität zu Köln)

Tamara Caulkins (Central Washington University)

Michela Cigola (Università di Cassino e del Lazio meridionale)

Michael Friedman (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Arturo Gallozzi (Università di Cassino e del Lazio meridionale)

Sarah Griffin (Winchester College)

Eunsoo Lee (Stanford University)

Jens Lemanski (FernUniversität in Hagen)

David J. LePoire (Argonne National Laboratory)

Iulia Mihai (Ghent University)

Ion Mihailescu (Laboratory for the History of Science and Technology, Lausanne)

Amirouche Moktefi (Tallinn University of Technology)

Daniel Muzzulini (Zurich University of the Arts)

Yelda Nasifoglu (University of Oxford)

Sara Öberg Stradål (The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge)

Sergio H. Orozco-Echeverri (The University of Edinburgh)

Margaret Schotte (York University, Toronto)

Elaine Condouris Stroud (Independent Scholar, Madison, Wisconsin)

Aníbal Szapiro (Universidad de Buenos Aires)

Naïs Virenque (Université Catholique de Louvain)

Susan Forscher Weiss (The Johns Hopkins University)

The conference will take place entirely online (registration will be available soon)

Scientific Organization: Sietske Fransen and Christoph Sander

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