Past Event

Pamela Smith - Fire and Transformation in Early Modern European Art and Alchemy

April 19, 2017
1:15 PM - 2:15 PM
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Metcalf Auditorium, Chace Center, 20 North Main Street, Providence RI

Earth, Water, Air, and Fire were conceptual building blocks in early modern European views of nature, and, at the same time, fire was an everyday agent of transformation in all realms of early modern life, from quotidian charcoal making and other forms of utilitarian knowledge about fire and fuel, to metalworking practices, to the language of alchemical allegory.

The lecture will survey these areas and focus in on the mental world of metalworkers whose work with fire involved a material network of transformative substances, including red pigments, blood, gold, and lizards. Introduction will be given by Lenore Manderson, the Chairperson is Rachel Berwick (Glass, RISD).

Pamela H. Smith is Seth Low Professor of History and Director of the Center for Science and Society at Columbia University.  Her books are The Business of Alchemy (1994); Merchants and Marvels (ed. with Paula Findlen, 2002); The Body of the Artisan (2004); Making Knowledge in Early Modern Europe (ed. with Benjamin Schmidt,  2008); Ways of Making and Knowing (ed. with Amy R. W. Meyers and Harold Cook, 2015); and The Matter of Art (ed. with Christy Anderson and Anne Dunlop, 2015). She is currently directing a large collaborative research and teaching initiative, the Making and Knowing Project, to reconstruct the vernacular knowledge of early modern craftspeople from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including hands-on work in a laboratory.

This event is sponsored by the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society and the Glass Department at RISD. Please see the website for further information. For more information about the larger conference, please visit its event page