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Physicians and slaves: Oriental studies between Florence, Pisa and Livorno in the seventeenth century

28 May 2019
10:00 am
San Francesco Complex - Classroom 2

This paper is a microanalysis of the genesis and printing process of Francesco Redi’s Experiments on the Generation of the Insects, published in Florence in 1668. Redi’s work is the first scientific treatise that, based on experiment and observation, disproved the theory of spontaneous generation. Through a close reading of the correspondence that Redi exchanged with his collaborators, along with the analysis of the book, particularly the paratext and folio K4, the paper shows the importance that Oriental studies played in the reading of the Book of Nature as well as in the construction of the new rhetoric of courtly science. I argue that Redi used both the images of the insects and the quotations in Arabic to challenge Athanasius Kircher’s theory on spontaneous generation (Mundus subterraneus, 1665) as well as Kircher’s use and misuse of Oriental erudition.

Pier Mattia Tommasino - Columbia University