CSMBR Summer School 2021: LATITUDES OF THE BODY. Human-Based Measurement and its Contexts from Leonardo to Newton (1400-1700)

July 21-24, 2021, Domus Comeliana - Pisa, Italy

Keynote Speakers
Martin Kemp – Oxford University
Michael Stolberg – Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Giulia Martina Weston – The Courtauld Institute of Art

Fabrizio Bigotti (CSMBR, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, University of Exeter)

The 2021 CSMBR Summer School will explore theories, applications, problems, and contexts of human-based measurements across the late medieval and early modern period (c.1400-1700). It builds upon four strictly related questions:

– How was it like experiencing the world before the advent of universally standardised measurement?

– What role did the human body, its limbs and the five senses play in defining spaces, distances, values, lists of objects, schemes and prices?

– How were systems of human-based measurement affected by the advent of early modern technology?

– To what extent can we replace human-based and value-laden measurement with technology-based parameters?

These questions will be addressed both in presentations and roundtables by focusing on three main themes, namely

– the Body as a Canon and its Proportions

– the Body as a Unit of Measurement: Place, Space, and Orientation

– the Body as a Unit of Value: Quality and Price

Under each headline speakers will be discussing how the three-dimensionality of the body and its limbs affected theories of proportion (Galen, Leonardo, Dürer, Vesalius, Valverde, Palladio, etc.) as well as the shaping of architectural and urban spaces in normal and pathological conditions (e.g. homes, temples, hospices, pharmacies, hospitals and areas of confinement); the methods and orders of dissection and their impact on learned representations of the body (Berengario da Carpi, Charles Estienne, Bassiano Landi, Vesalius, Van Spiegel, Acquapendente, Willis, Boerhaave, etc.). Particular attention will be devoted to the five senses and to the way the sense of taste defined values of quality/purity and, accordingly, prices of foodstuff on the market (drugs, spices, etc.), how the mapping of colours and shades helped classifying substances (uroscopy, classification of mixtures); how the anatomy of the eye was related to the definition of “visual space” in the perception of external objects, the development of acoustics and harmonics in relation to the anatomy of the ear as well as, more generally, how philosophical theories of natural space (locus) and spatial orientation developed side by side with an analysis of sense-perception. Special emphasis shall also be laid on how units of measure in terms of inches, palms, fathoms, and feet were relevant in the making of maps, astronomical observations and diagrams of latitude as well as on the relation between heartbeat and time, in medicine as well as in music.

List of the possible topics to be discussed per day:

DAY ONE – “The Body as a Canon and its Proportions”

The ‘Homo Vitruvianus’: Sources, Applications, Developments
Canon and Temperament (in light of Galen’s “De usu partium” and “De optima corporis nostri constitutione” its tradition, translation and other similar medical treatises)
Body-Statue Proportions (i.e Brunelleschi, Alberti, Leonardo)
Ideal Cities as Ideal bodies (F. Di Giorgio Martini and all related themes)
The Architecture of the Healthy and Diseased Body (e.g. houses, hospitals, pharmacies, spaces of confinement, etc.)

DAY TWO – “The Body as a Unit of Measurement”

Units of Measurements (inches, fingers, palms, cubits, arms, feet, steps, degrees) and their import in the description of objects, maps, market lists and diagrams.
Diagrams of Latitude and Scientific Diagrams.
Astronomical Observations before and after the Pendulum
Feeling the Pulse, methods and forms of quantification
Rhythms of the Heart: Time in Music
Measurements of Vital Phenomena (e.g. technology in medicine, from the pulsilogium onwards)

DAY THREE – “The Body as a Unit of Value”

The Eye and the Perception of External Objects
Measuring by Colour: Classification of Humours by Shades in Alchemy and Uroscopy
Taste and Price: Tasteful qualities as Units of Value (i.e. purity/impurity, brilliancy, smell, Colour etc.)
Hearing: Issues in Acoustics and Harmonics as linked to the human perception of sound
Order and Method in Anatomy (with special reference to length of the organs and the spatial method of dissection: “a capite ad cor, a corde infra”)
Physical Orientation and Perception of External Objects in EM Natural Philosophy (Aristotelianism, Platonism, as well as individual authors i.e. Gassendi, Locke, Leibniz, Kant)

DAY FOUR – Workshops and Labs

Discussion of attendees’ papers (5-7 min each followed by discussion)
Philology Lab: Situs, Figura, Numerus in EM Anatomical Mss (Stolberg)
4 Round tables (30 min each) discussing music tracks, images, and artefacts
Tech Lab: Applications of Santorio’s ‘Pulsilogium’ (Barry and Bigotti)

While strongly rooted in the CSMBR intellectual history tradition, the summer school will present and discuss a variety of verbal and non-verbal sources (e.g. manuscripts, images, music pieces, and artefacts) in a multidisciplinary approach that aims at attracting and welcoming scholars with different backgrounds, interests and expertise.

The summer school spans across four days, articulated as 3+1, namely three days of lectures plus a final day entirely dedicated to roundtables and to the discussion of presentations from attendees (see below). To these, two workshops are added: the former (late morning) shall focus on reading and interpreting manuscript sources relevant to the visualisation of the body (Stolberg), the latter (late afternoon) will be devoted to hands-on experimentation with replicas of early modern instruments (esp. Santorio’s pulsilogium).

To engage fully with the speakers during this four-day experience, attendees are strongly invited to elaborate their own contributions on the topics discussed, either in the form of PowerPoint presentations and/or as short papers (max. 5 min). These will be followed by thematic roundtables focusing on the analysis of non-verbal sources, including relevant artefacts, images, videos, and music tracks.

Roundtables topics can also be proposed by the attendees upon reaching an agreement amongst not less than 3 people interested. For organisational reasons, only two such round tables can be proposed and must be communicated to the panel at least 3 weeks prior to the official beginning of the Summer School.

The summer school is open to students and scholars at all stages of their career. Sources will be pre-circulated in order for attendees to engage fruitfully in conversation with speakers in roundtables at the end of the fourth day. Small presentations (no longer than 5-7 minutes each) are also welcome.

Participation is permitted both in presence and online. For further information visit https://csmbr.fondazionecomel.org/events-and-activities/csmbr-summer-schools/2021-2/

The Summer School runs in association with the Santorio Fellowship 2021 scheme.

Five Santorio Fellowships will be offered throughout by means of an application process. Applicants should send a cover letter (max. 300 words), CV (max. 2 pages) and a reference letter to the following address: santoriofellowship@csmbr.fondazionecomel.org.

The deadline is 15 April 2021 with successful applications notified by mid-May.

Summer School 2021


Posted: January 16, 2021