The Astronomer’s Chair: A Visual and Cultural History is the first book-length study of the place of seat-furniture in the history of science, particularly with respect to the astronomer’s gendered and racialized labor and body. With a focus on mechanically adjustable observing chairs used in conjunction with telescopes in Europe, Great Britain, and the United States in the nineteenth century, the book situates task-specific chairs at the intersection of multiple economies: moral, visual, and epistemic. The novel approach taken in The Astronomer’s Chair—one that methodologically treats visual and material cultures jointly—allows the author to systematically decolonize the image and object of the chair in science but also to relocate it in a broad material cosmology of the nineteenth century that is global. Equipped with the distinct conclusions of this study, Nasim implicates Freud’s couch into a global history of the psyche, one just as historicist and Orientalized as the astronomer’s chair.
- Omar W. Nasim, Professor of History of Science at the University of Regensburg
- Chaired by Hannah Pivo, Graduate Student in Modern Design and Architecture at Columbia University
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Hosted by the Department of Art History and Archeology at Columbia University.