Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Jesuits and the Construction of Knowledge, 1540–1773

I'm pleased, but a little late in announcing that an exhibit I co-curated with Dr. Florence Hsia, Dr. Robin Rider, and Dr. Jim Lattis has opened in Special Collections at Memorial Library. As the title suggests, the exhibit focuses on Jesuit and knowledge production from the order's establishment in 1540 to its repression in 1773. The disciplines commonly associated with the early Society like astronomy and mathematics are well represented, however we wanted to demonstrate the richness of early-modern Jesuit scholarship. As it turns out, we have a ton of rare books that could have been part of this exhibit and we ultimately had to make hard choices of what to include and exclude. The final display features over 100 works and includes a long list of books in our collections that didn't make the cut.

In helping select books for the exhibit, I really got a feel for the panoptic nature of early-modern Jesuit scholarship. As has often been said, the Jesuits were everywhere in the early modern world and the fruits of this globetrotting can be seen in their studies on hydrography, natural history, and cartography. The Society was clearly proud of the global nature of their mission, which is evidenced by the motto "unnus non sufficit orbis." Meaning "one world is not enough," this motto is inscribed in many engraved illustrations on display.

One particularly striking image in which it appears is a large map of the Society in the form of a tree. The trunk of the tree represents Rome, while the branches of the tree are the major missions of the world. A sundial clock is associated with each region of the world where the Jesuits were stationed, allowing the viewer to calculate the time difference between Rome and its provinces. Another one of my favorite images is a large, detailed selenography that appears in Riccioli's Almagestum novum (1651). Produced forty years after Galileo's telescopic study of the moon, much of Riccioli's lunar nomenclature has stuck. (Nick Jacobsen and I are hoping to produce a new interpretation of this image, possibly for HSS next year...)

None of these images can be adequately described in words and I've purposefully omitted links to images in order to encourage people to check out the exhibit, if possible. It will be up through December. However, I will be posting again about another related project: The Jesuit Iconography visual culture database.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Anna Zeide on Grist

Don't forget to check out our own Anna Zeide's recent posts on Grist, on the history of canned food in America!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing

As the history of science has moved beyond strict intellectual history, our work has gotten more and more interdisciplinary. At the same time, because we are in one of the few independent history of science departments in the country, even our colleagues on the other side of Bascom Hill can sometimes seem like they're from another world. When beginning work on a new project, you inevitably realize that other subdisciplines of history likely have valuable contributions to offer. But catching up on decades of historiography in a field that impinges on your work takes time and hard work. And especially for those of us who come from backgrounds other than history, figuring out how to start can be bewildering.

Probably the most important thing to do is ask a friend in the "regular ol' " History Department for suggestions about what to read and who to talk to. Syllabi and textbooks from survey courses can also point you in the right direction.

I just stumbled upon a useful source, though, that can help make tracking down and understanding unfamiliar historiographies just a little bit easier: The Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing. Trying to decide whether it's more correct to say that your work will be relevant to "diplomatic historians" or to "historians of international relations"? Want to know who the most important authors in legal history are? Wonder what the heck Arnold Toynbee argued, anyway? This is the place to go.

Now, I obviously haven't read the whole thing, so I can't say whether every article is spot-on, but this is definitely a resource to add to your toolkit when venturing into new areas of history (especially if you find yourself suspicious of Wikipedia's handling of the topic). Unfortunately, our library system does not have it in electronic form, and only part of Volume 1 is available at Google Books.

While we're on the subject, how have you approached the problem of familiarizing yourself with relevant historical subdisciplines? Any tips to share or frustrations to vent?

(P.S. I'm hoping we can get more vigorous discussion going in the comments section of this blog, though maybe the low volume is just a result of the quality of our brownbag and happy hour conversations!)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The History of Cartography Project @ UW

Among the many research projects residing at UW-Madison, the History of Cartography Project stands out as having produced the well-received multi-volume History of Cartography series of books about the history of maps, mapping, and mapmaking. Begun by J. B. Harley and David Woodward in the 1980s, the Project is now edited by an international team of scholars who are working on the next three planned volumes to be published by the University of Chicago Press.

Volume 3: Cartography in the European Renaissance, came out as a two-book set in 2007. Four previous volumes have been published (recently available online at : Volume 1: Cartography in Prehistoric, Ancient, and Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean (1987); Volume 2, Book 1: Cartography in the Traditional Islamic and South Asian Societies (1992); Volume 2, Book 2: Cartography in the Traditional East and Southeast Asian Societies (1994); and Volume 2, Book 3: Cartography in the Traditional African, American, Arctic, Australian, and Pacific Societies (1998).

These volumes have become a standard reference not only for their outstanding scholarship, but for their extensive illustrations (over 1,000 images in Volume 3; 80 in color), detailed footnotes, and reference maps. For information about the Project and these volumes, visit the Project’s web site at

As a graduate student who has worked at the Project for nearly 12 years as their Illustrations Editor, I’ve gained excellent experience and research skills in locating images needed for the volumes from archives and libraries worldwide. Given my own interests in this field, which pairs nicely with the history of science, I’ve made numerous professional contacts that will be beneficial to my current and future research.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Historical Methods & Resources For the Greenhorn Historian

Dear HSMTers (and their fans),

I have compiled a list of all the books and resources that I have found to be particularly helpful for learning historical methods and teaching. I also included a section on managing the lifestyle of being a graduate student and budding scholar. These resources may be a little basic, but they might be helpful for those with little or no historical or pedagogical training.


Becker, Howard Saul, and Pamela Richards. Writing for Social Scientists : How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, or Article. 2nd ed, Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. 3rd ed, Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Chandler, James, Arnold I. Davidson, and Harry D. Harootunian. Questions of Evidence : Proof, Practice, and Persuasion across the Disciplines. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.

Davidson, James West, and Mark H. Lytle. After the Fact : The Art of Historical Detection. 2 vols. New York: Knopf, 1982.

Grafton, Anthony. The Footnote : A Curious History. [Rev. ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997.

Jordanova, L.J., and LJ Jordanova. History in Practice: Arnold London, 2000.

Murray, Rowena. "Writing for Academic Journals." Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill International (UK) Ltd, 2009.

Rampolla, Mary Lynn. A Pocket Guide to Writing in History. 6th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2010.

Rosen, Leonard J. The Academic Writer's Handbook. 3rd ed. Boston: Pearson Longman, 2012.

Tosh, John. The Pursuit of History : Aims, Methods and New Directions in the Study of Modern History. 5th ed. Harlow, England ; New York: Longman, 2010.

Turabian, Kate L., John Grossman, and Alice Bennett. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. 6th ed, Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.


Perspectives on History: Finding the Story

On Taking Notes

Managing the Terror

How Writing Leads to Thinking (And not the other way around)

"Building a Mystery":Alternative Research Writing and the Academic Act of Seeking

Web 2.0 A Useful Tool for the History of Medicine (and Science and Technology...)

Digital Resources:

UW Database Library: History of Science, Medicine, Technology

Directory of History Journals

University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center

Archival Resources in Wisconsin: Descriptive Finding Aids

The Knight Digital Media Center and Source Guides

Wisconsin Division for Libraries, Technology, and Community Learning: BadgerLink

Historical 'Hardware':

Transcriptions: Transcribing Audio to Text Software Aid (for Mac only)

Chicago Manual of Style Crib Sheet

RefWorks/EndNote/Zotero Features Comparison

All Bookstores Search Engine

Internet Disablers

Mac Applications Disabler

Desktop Screen Darkener

Free Trainings & Workshops:

Library Workshops: Historical Research

Library Workshops: Graduate Support Series

Library and Information Literacy Instruction

Writing Center Workshops

Software Training Workshops by DoIT

For Inspiration:

Why Become a Historian?

Why Study History?

Why the Past Matters

Advice Against Despair: Caring for the Whole ... and for Ourselves:

Professional Development:

Campus Humanities Portal

Grad School Survival

Scholarly Pursuits: A Guide to Professional Development During the Graduate Years

Publishing Without Perishing: A Handbook for Graduate and Professional Students

Graduate Student Professional Development Career Planning

The Professor Is In

Careers for History Majors

How to Find a Job Outside of Academia, Even if You Aren't Sure That You Want One