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Josy Musil-Gutsch, LMU-Munich

Thu December 9th 2021, 4:30 - 6:00pm
History Bldg Room 307

Sealed with Wax: How Materials Connect the History of the Sciences and the Humanities

The history of the relationship between the humanities and the sciences around 1900 is often told as an intellectual history of increasing divide between the "two cultures." The story I am telling, however, heads in the opposite direction. My project explores the surprising ways of how the sciences and the humanities were entangled directly and practically in research on material objects such as ancient glazed tiles, medieval paper manuscripts, and a wax bust from the Renaissance. Scientists interested in cultural history contributed to research problems in the humanities with their scientific tools, methods, and expertise, and sometimes turned into historians themselves. By analyzing the practices and dynamics of research collaborations between sciences and humanities, I am adding to a more diverse picture of an integrated history of the humanities and sciences. In this talk I will highlight case studies of collaborations between disciplines such as a) paleography and botany, b) art history and chemistry, and c) assyriology and history of chemistry.