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Nature in Draft. Images and Overseas Natural History in the Work of Charles Plumier (1646-1704)

Dates:
  • Tue 02 May 2017 14.30 - 17.00
  Add to Calendar 2017-05-02 14:30 2017-05-02 17:00 Europe/Paris Nature in Draft. Images and Overseas Natural History in the Work of Charles Plumier (1646-1704)

Upon his death in 1704, the Minim friar, botanist to Louis XIV, and intrepid traveler Charles Plumier (1646-1704) left in his Parisian convent a mass of drawings on the flora and fauna of the West Indies. The industrious Plumier was a naturalist with inky fingers: his firsthand observations on the Caribbean islands translated into thousands of paper materials extremely heterogeneous in form and content. They encompass exquisite ink-and-watercolor pictures and rapidly executed sketches, rough notes and elaborate written descriptions, detailed measurements and interminable lists. For all their diversity, Plumier’s papers bear the common desire to depict, describe, and inventory flowery and non-flowery plants, seeds and leaves, fishes and shells, reptiles and birds—in one word, to capture a faraway nature on paper. Nature in Draft mines this exciting and virtually untapped 8,000-page archive, and traces its history from the field, through the often tortuous paths that brought part of it into print, down to its eighteenth- and nineteenth-century afterlives. By paying particular attention to the materiality of Plumier’s corpus and the practices by which it was crafted and subsequently put to use, my aim is to relocate the much-debated notion of scientific image within a broader perspective on the working methods and intellectual technologies that underpinned the production and transmission of natural knowledge in France around 1700. Each of the six chapters foregrounds a different aspect of Plumier’s papers. The first two chapters consider the intellectual and political dimensions of the corpus; the third and fourth move towards an in-depth analysis of the archive as a tool for the recording, storing, and management of natural historical information; the last part of the dissertation deals with the transmission and reception of the collection, both in print and through the appropriations and relocations of which it was the object long after the death of the author.

Sala del Torrino - Villa Salviati- Castle DD/MM/YYYY
  Sala del Torrino - Villa Salviati- Castle

Upon his death in 1704, the Minim friar, botanist to Louis XIV, and intrepid traveler Charles Plumier (1646-1704) left in his Parisian convent a mass of drawings on the flora and fauna of the West Indies. The industrious Plumier was a naturalist with inky fingers: his firsthand observations on the Caribbean islands translated into thousands of paper materials extremely heterogeneous in form and content. They encompass exquisite ink-and-watercolor pictures and rapidly executed sketches, rough notes and elaborate written descriptions, detailed measurements and interminable lists. For all their diversity, Plumier’s papers bear the common desire to depict, describe, and inventory flowery and non-flowery plants, seeds and leaves, fishes and shells, reptiles and birds—in one word, to capture a faraway nature on paper. Nature in Draft mines this exciting and virtually untapped 8,000-page archive, and traces its history from the field, through the often tortuous paths that brought part of it into print, down to its eighteenth- and nineteenth-century afterlives. By paying particular attention to the materiality of Plumier’s corpus and the practices by which it was crafted and subsequently put to use, my aim is to relocate the much-debated notion of scientific image within a broader perspective on the working methods and intellectual technologies that underpinned the production and transmission of natural knowledge in France around 1700. Each of the six chapters foregrounds a different aspect of Plumier’s papers. The first two chapters consider the intellectual and political dimensions of the corpus; the third and fourth move towards an in-depth analysis of the archive as a tool for the recording, storing, and management of natural historical information; the last part of the dissertation deals with the transmission and reception of the collection, both in print and through the appropriations and relocations of which it was the object long after the death of the author.


Location:
Sala del Torrino - Villa Salviati- Castle

Affiliation:
Department of History and Civilization

Type:
Thesis defence

Supervisor:
Jorge Flores (European University Institute)

Defendant:
Jose Juan Beltran Coello (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)

Contact:
Miriam Felicia Curci - Send a mail

Examiner:
Stéphane Van Damme (EUI and Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris)
Ann Blair (Harvard University)
Juan Pimentel (Spanish National Research Council)

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