Past Event

Exploring the Poetical Sciences: The Story of Edward and Orra White Hitchcock

September 17, 2018
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
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American Folk Art Museum, 2 Lincoln Square, New York

This half-day symposium will bring together scholars from a variety of disciplines to examine the lives and work of the Hitchcocks through different lenses, including poetry, geology, and paleontology. This event is presented in collaboration with the exhibit “Charting the Divine Plan: The Art of Orra White Hitchcock (1796–1863)” which explores the confluence of art, love, science, and religion in the extraordinary art of Orra White Hitchcock, one of America’s first female scientific illustrators. The symposium will feature the book “The Course of Nature: A Book of Drawings on Natural Selection and Its Consequences” written by the Science and Subjectivity Cluster Leader Robert Pollack and illustrated by Amy Pollack.

Orra White exhibited a prodigious scientific mind and abundant artistic talent at an early age. The exhibition traces her development from schoolgirl projects to highly accomplished renderings of the natural scenery of the Connecticut River Valley used in her husband’s many geology publications. Less well known are colorful paintings on cotton – some more than twelve feet long – that were used to illustrate her husband’s many college lectures on geology, botany, zoology, and anatomy. Archival letters, manuscripts, diaries, and albums place Edward and Orra White Hitchcock in the very heart of international scientific inquiry. In the early years of the nineteenth century, when the natural world was a place of wonder, Edward Hitchcock, theologian, and scientist, saw the interconnectedness of God’s created world, and Orra White Hitchcock made it manifest through her art for all to comprehend and marvel.

The exhibition will be on display June 12, 2018 – October 14, 2018. Museum admission to the exhibit is free. The symposium is $10 for members, students, and seniors; and $15 for the general public.

For more information and to purchase symposium ticket, please visit the symposium webpage.

  • Tekla Harms (Massachusetts Professor in Chemistry and Natural History at Amherst College)
  • Stacy C. Hollander (Acting Director and Chief Curator at the American Folk Art Museum)
  • Dr. Melanie Hopkins (Paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History)
  • Allison C. Meier (Writer)
  • Annie Merrill (Americanist)
  • Naila Moreira (Lecturer in English Language & Literature at Smith College)
  • Amy Pollack (Artist)
  • Robert Pollack (Professor of Biological Sciences at Columbia University)