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.