New Perspectives on Mersenne in the History of Knowledge, Music, and Religion

  • Public event without registration
  • Start: Jun 6, 2024 09:30 AM (Local Time Germany)
  • End: Jun 7, 2024 03:30 PM
  • Speaker: Conference
  • Location: Villino Stroganoff, Via Gregoriana 22, 00187 Rome and online (Vimeo)
  • Contact:
New Perspectives on Mersenne in the History of Knowledge, Music, and Religion
In the historiography of the philosopher, mathematician, and Minim theologian Marin Mersenne (1588–1648), 2024 marks 91 years since the publication of the first volume of his Correspondance, 81 years since Robert Lenoble’s trailblazing biography, and 36 years since Peter Dear’s revisionist study of Mersenne and the Jesuit milieu that produced his “deliberately unrevolutionary” scholarship in a rather revolutionary period.

Taking stock of his wide range of activities and aligning the understanding of Mersenne with current historiography, this two-day conference is devoted to reconsidering the position of Mersenne within the history of science, philosophy, and musical scholarship. Rather than attempting to provide a definitive interpretation, it aims to broaden the scope of Mersenne scholarship in line with recent historiographical trends that have focused on the significance of institutional frameworks, scholarly practices, reading habits, global history, and the relationship between religion and science. Furthermore, since Mersenne’s historiographical legacy is spread across multiple disciplinary strands, this conference will unite the discussions of historians of science, philosophy, and music, and will put these disciplinary perspectives in dialogue. Our conference will be held at the Bibliotheca Hertziana, a stone’s throw away from the former Minim convent at Trinità dei Monti in Rome which hosted Mersenne during his long-awaited Italian journey undertaken in 1644. It hopes to seek new directions in Mersenne scholarship and recenter the Minim in line with these developments of twenty-first century scholarship in the history of knowledge, religion, and music.


6th of June

09:30 Opening Emily Kent and Leendert van der Miesen

10:00 Théodora Psychoyou (Sorbonne Université Paris): “‘May God bless the Ancients’: The Status and Functions of Authorities in Mersenne's Science and Discourse on Music.”

10:45 Coffee break

11:15 André Redwood (University at Albany, SUNY): “Things and Signs: Mersenne’s Science as Sacred Rhetoric.”

12:00 Claudio Buccolini (Istituto per il Lessico Intellettuale Europeo e la Storia delle Idee – Consignlio Nazionale delle Ricerche): “The Exegesis of the Last Mersenne.”

12:45 Lunch (for speakers only)

13:45 Walking to Convento di Trinità dei Monti

14:00 Guided Tour Convento di Trinità dei Monti (site visit for speakers only)

16:15 Emily Kent (The University of Edinburgh): “The Call of the Cloister: Mersenne, Maignan, and the Quest for a Doxological Philosophy.”

17:00 Renee Raphael (University of California, Irvine): “Recovering Mersenne’s Mathematical Reading Practices.” (online)

17:45 End day 1

7th of June

09:30 Eric Bianchi (Fordham University): “Mersenne and His Readers: On the Uses and Abuses of a Minim Polymath.”

10:15 Leendert van der Miesen (Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History): “How Big was Mersenne’s World?”

11:00 Coffee break

11:30 Jacomien Prins (Utrecht University): “Marin Mersenne’s Reinvention of the Doctrine of Music’s Ethical Power to Affect the Soul.”

12:15 Agostino de Rosa (Iuav University of Venice): “The Inner Life of Anamorphosis: Jean-François Niceron Between Paris and Rome.”

13:00 Lunch (for speakers only)

14:00 Alessio Bortot (University of Trieste)​​: “Emmanuel Maignan, Optics, and Gnomonics in 17th-century Rome.”

14:45 Coffee break

15:00 Commentary and discussion: Julia Kursell (University of Amsterdam) and Richard Oosterhoff (The University of Edinburgh)

16:00 End

Please follow the event on our VIMEO CHANNEL also the link, that will be published HERE.

Scientific Organization: Emily Kent (The University of Edinburgh) and Leendert van der Miesen (Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institut for Art History)

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