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Brian Ogilvie

Professeur associé
Université du Massachussets, Amherst, États-Unis
Nature's Bible : Insects in European Art, Science, and Religion from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment
01 January 2012 -
30 June 2012

Brian Ogilvie received his BA (1990), MA (1992), and PhD (1997) from the University of Chicago. He is currently Associate Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His monograph, The Science of Describing: Natural History in Renaissance Europe (University of Chicago Press, 2006), examines the origins of modern botany and zoology. He has also published articles and chapters on early modern natural history, humanism and science, and, with Bridget Marshall, on witchcraft in colonial Hadley, Massachusetts. He has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities (US), the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the National Science Foundation (US), the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, and the Columbia University Institute for Scholars at Reid Hall, Paris.

To modern readers, Jan Swammerdam’s book The Bible of Nature, or the History of Insects reduced to distinct classes contains a paradox: the natural history of insects hardly seems to comprise Nature’s Bible. This book project aims to resolve the paradox: to examine how the intense interest that early modern Europeans took in insects, from the late Renaissance to the Enlightenment, was not merely an episode in the prehistory of entomology but, in fact, drew together powerful currents in what we now think of as the distinct realms of science, art, and religion. Beginning with sixteenth century natural history and the revival of interest in the works of Albrecht Dürer, I will show how insects, knowledge about them, and the symbolic meanings elaborated from them circulated throughout early modern culture. From Joris Hoefnagel’s emblematic miniatures of insects to Maria Sibylla Merian’s life-sized watercolors, from Ulisse Aldrovandi’s insect encyclopedia of 1603 to August Johann Rösel’s monthly Insect Entertainment of the 1740s and 1750s, from Jan Swammerdam’s insect anatomy to F. C. Lesser’s insect theology, knowledge about insects circulated across nascent disciplinary boundaries, inspiring readers and collectors to focus their attention on these perceptually marginal creatures. In short, insects were good to think with.

Workshop organized by Brian Ogilvie (Paris IAS fellow)
12 Jun 2012 09:15 -
12 Jun 2012 18:30,
Paris :
Insectes, sociétés et cultures de la Renaissance au XIXe siècle
24 May 2012 00:00 -
26 May 2012 00:00,
Münster :
Insects in John Ray's Natural History and Natural Theology

Modern period (1492-1789)