Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dibner Seminar

The first meeting for 2010-2011 of our seminar series in conjunction with the Dibner History of Science Program will be held on Saturday, March 12, 2011, at 9:30 a.m. in the Danner Conference Room of the Botanical Complex at The Huntington.

Each of this year’s seminars (three in all) will have two invited speakers who will engage with each other and with participants on specific themes. The first seminar focuses upon issues relating to the interaction between science and religion.

“The Lutheran Book of Nature”

Kathleen Crowther, Assistant Professor, University of Oklahoma

This talk examines three early modern Lutheran works on the natural world, Wilhelm Sarcerius'Spiritual Herbal (1573), Hermann Heinrich Frey's Biblical Animal, Bird, and Fish Book (1595), and Jakob Schopper's Biblical Gemstone Book (1604). The authors of these books, who were all Lutheran pastors, offered readers information about plants, animals and gems mentioned in the Bible with a view to explicating certain biblical passages, but also to draw moral and doctrinal lessons from these natural objects. These authors saw Nature itself as affirming their own Lutheran doctrines and disproving those of Catholics.

"Keeping Science and Religion in Perspective in the Historiography of Science"

Jole Shackelford, Acting Director, History of Medicine, University of Minnesota and Reviews Editor,Early Science and Medicine

Recent historiography of science has emphasized the study of religious contexts for scientific developments, in conscious reaction to a perceived assumption of an antithesis between science and religion that guided the historiography of science in the wake of late 19th-century pronouncements by Andrew Dickson White and John William Draper. But has such a program of rapprochement itself created normative tendencies that skew the historian's investigation of the history of science? Some specific examples from the history of science and medicine offer fertile ground for discussing the dialectic between science and religion in current historiography.

All scholars and graduate students with an interest in the history of science are cordially invited to attend. There will be no pre-circulated papers for the seminar. If you have any questions, please contact Susi Krasnoo at

Please mark your calendars for two more seminars on April 16 and April 30. Information will be sent several weeks ahead.

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