Past Event

Paola Bertucci - Artisanal Enlightenment: Science and the Mechanical Arts in Early Modern France

May 1, 2018
6:30 PM - 7:30 PM
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CUNY Graduate Center (Room #5114), 365 Fifth Ave., New York
Photo of Paola Bertucci's new book about artisanal enlightenment

Speaker: Paola Bertucci, Associate Professor of History and History of Medicine; Curator of the Historical Scientific Division at the Peabody Museum; Director of Graduate Studies of the History of Science and Medicine Program, Yale University

Paola Bertucci will speak about her recent book, Artisanal Enlightenment: Science and the Mechanical Arts in Early Modern France. Her work explores what the Enlightenment would look like from the perspective of artistes, the learned artisans with esprit, who presented themselves in contrast to philosophers, savants, and routine-bound craftsmen. Making a radical change of historical protagonists, Paola Bertucci places the mechanical arts and the world of making at the heart of the Enlightenment. At a time of great colonial, commercial, and imperial concerns, artistes planned encyclopedic projects and sought an official role in the administration of the French state. The Société des Arts, which they envisioned as a state institution that would foster France’s colonial and economic expansion, was the most ambitious expression of their collective aspirations. Artisanal Enlightenment provides the first in-depth study of the Société, and demonstrates its legacy in scientific programs, academies, and the making of Diderot and D’Alembert’s Encyclopédie. Through insightful analysis of textual, visual, and material sources, Bertucci provides a groundbreaking perspective on the politics of writing on the mechanical arts and the development of key Enlightenment concepts such as improvement, utility, and progress.

Her talk will be proceeded by a reception for graduate students from 5:30-6:00PM. For more information contact [email protected] or visit the CUNY event page.