This year's Huygens-Descartes Lecture by Daniel Margócsy (Cambridge University) traces the reception history of Andreas Vesalius’ De humani corporis fabrica, the first illustrated atlas of anatomy. It relies on the recently completed census of the Fabrica, which has documented the surviving copies of the 1543 and 1555 editions of the work.
It shows how political and economic considerations have shaped how copies of this impressive and expensive volume traveled within Europe and beyond in the past five hundred years, and how readers responded to the text and the illustrations. Margócsy argues that, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Fabrica served as a political tool for understanding and regulating gender relations. An analysis of the annotations reveals that the Fabrica was read for what it said about sexual difference and the secrets of generation. Huib Zuidervaart (Huygens ING) shall provide a commentary to the lecture.
About the speaker
Daniel Margocsy is University Lecturer in Science, Technology and Medicine before 1800 at Cambridge University. He studies the cultural history of early modern science. He has taught at Northwestern University and at Hunter College, the City University of New York, and received his PhD in the History of Science from Harvard University in 2009. His first book, Commercial Visions: Science, Trade and Visual Culture in the Dutch Golden Age (Chicago, 2014) has examined the impact of global trade on cultural production in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It explores how commercial networks played a crucial role in the growth and transmission of empirical knowledge; and how commercial secrecy and marketing transformed the public sphere and the Republic of Letters. His current research interests include a census of all surviving copies of Andreas Vesalius’ De humani corporis fabrica, popular magic in 17th-century France, and the visual culture of early modern zoology in a global context.
About the event
The Huygens-Descartes Lecture is organised annually to give a wider audience access to current trends and new insights in the history of science. It features a leading member of the international history of science community. Earlier speakers have included Harold Cook, Paula Findlen, Pamela Smith, Jacob Soll and J.B. Shank. The event is organised alternately by the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands (Amsterdam) and the Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of Science (Utrecht). Doors open at 14.00 hrs; the lecture is set to commence at 14.30 hrs. Drinks are served afterwards. The lecture and commentary shall both be delivered in English.