Nature’s Publics: The Making of Publics for knowledge of the natural world in Europe, 1500-1800

Nature’s Publics: The Making of Publics for knowledge of the natural world in Europe, 1500-1800

Making Publics Project
Vom - Bis
18.03.2010 - 20.03.2010
Vera Keller, History, University of Oregon

The history of European society and culture between ca. 1500-1800 is characterized in part by new discoveries about the heavens and the material or physical characteristics of the earth and its inhabitants and the widespread distribution of this new knowledge. Nature’s Publics takes this growing area of scholarly and public interest as the subject for an interdisciplinary conference to be held in Montréal, Quebec, Canada from 18-20 March 2010 under the sponsorship of Making Publics: Media, markets, & association in early modern Europe, 1500-1700, a project based at McGill University in Montréal, Quebec Canada and funded under the Major Collaborative Research Initiative of Canada’s Social Science and Humanities Research Council. Scholars who have agreed to give keynote talks include Lesley Cormack (Simon Fraser University), Mary E. Fissell (Johns Hopkins University), Anthony Grafton (Princeton University), and Stephen D. Snobelen (University of King’s College and Dalhousie University). Proposals are invited for papers, 20-30 minutes in length, devoted to the making of publics for knowledge of natural philosophy, natural history, medicine, geography, cosmography and related subjects in Europe between 1500 and 1800. We would especially welcome papers devoted to the collective relations of the investigators; the agencies or groups engaged in publishing or disseminating knowledge of the new discoveries; the forms and mechanisms employed in the communication of ideas or information about the natural world; the institutions or communities in which this new knowledge was received and assessed or criticized; or the role played by “nature’s publics” in shaping or reshaping conceptions of public life, including ideas about membership in publics and about their practices. We would also welcome proposals on the above topics from scholars studying historical and cultural developments in the Americas during the period on which the conference is focused.

Our budget is limited, but funding is available to those presenting papers to help defray the majority of the cost of travel and accommodation.

Those interested in presenting papers at this conference should send via email by Wednesday, 15 July 2009 an abstract of no more than 800 words and a short CV of 2-3 pages to

David Harris Sacks, Richard F. Scholz Professor of History and Humanities, Reed College at dsacks@reed,edu, with a copy to Vera Keller <>.

For further information about Making Publics, please consult the project’s website:



Vera Keller

McGill University
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