Useful and Reliable Knowledge in Global Histories of Material Progress in the East and the West (URKEW)

Gregor Reisch, Margarita philosophica, Strasbourg: Johann Schott, [1503] 1504, Title page. Victoria and Albert Museum, London

This project, conducted by Simona Valeriani while being a member of the URKEW team, deals with the changing understanding of what was considered useful knowledge between the late Middle Ages and the Industrial revolution with a focus on Early modern Europe. Different aspects of society are considered in this respect: teaching and learning (pedagogical trends and curricula), encyclopaedias and compendia, prises and patent systems, scientific wish lists etc.

In this framework Simona is interested in the changing role played by the mechanical arts in society and in the appreciation of the elites. As a case study (civil) engineering is concentrated on and particularly water control and hydrology.

Furthermore a focus of this research is on the function of objects such as models, instruments, maps etc. in mediating between different epistemic cultures in Early Modern Times. Simona has been working on the role played by material objects in the transmission of facts from the past, as well as on the role they play in the construction of our identity.
Intended outcomes

A monograph entitled In-between Knowledge. Artefacts and Places in the production of Useful and reliable knowledge in Europe 15th – 18th century, is in preparation, interest has been expressed by Cambridge University Press.

Research Officer for Europe:

Dr Simona Valeriani

Relevant links  

Economic History

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