The workshop participants are gathering, and the Ordered Universe research project starts its next treatise formally on Thursday, but with a series of project meetings tomorrow. Participants include long-standing members of the team, Giles Gasper, Hannah Smithson, Tom McLeish, Brian Tanner, Richard Bower, Mike Huxtable and Sigbjørn Sønnesyn, who joined us last year, and Jack Cunningham, whose first workshop was on the rainbow, in Durham, in March, and fresh from the wonderful International Grosseteste Society conference in Lincoln, in July. Other regulars include Pierre Dechant, PhD students in medieval studies from Durham: Devin O’Leary, Kathy Bader, Sam Sergeant and Stephanie Britton, and Ulrike Nowak, fresh from her success in Philosophy and Psychology at Oxford in the summer. This is the first workshop for John Bissell, who will be joining the team from the science side, but with a strong background in the philosophy of science, and we welcome too Anne Lawrence-Mathers, a medievalist, currently working on medieval meteorology from Reading, Sinead O’Sullivan from Queen’s Belfast, an expert in early medieval texts, David Howard head of the audio lab at University of York, Nader el-Bisri, from American University of Beiruit, whose specialism is Arabic science of the medieval period, and Allyssa Metzger, PhD student from Harvard, history of science and the transmission of Arabic mathematics, Clive Siviour, Engineering Science and Pembroke College, and John Coleman, a leading authority on phonetics, from Oxford, Nick Cole, History of Ideas, Pembroke College, Rebekah White, Christ Church, Oxford, whose fields include sensory perception, and Lee de Wit, experimental psychology. So with the universities of Oxford, Durham, York, the American University of Beiruit, Harvard, Reading, Queen’s Belfast, Duke, and Leuven we are well represented.
We hope that the public lectures on Friday will open the project to a wider audience as well; and the workshop team will need the break – the reading sessions are demanding (!) but intensely rewarding. The science teams have been developing a range of wonderful demonstrations of the physical nature of sound – chladni plates and other equipment from the highest of tech to the beachside. These will be on display at the public lectures, along with video shows of the research team meetings, and some of the manuscripts which form the basis of the work on which we engage. The full programme is available here. There are still spaces for the public lectures – register here.
We’ll report on how the workshops go, from the sources of Grosseteste’s inspiration, to the translation and slow working out of the implications of the content of the piece. Sound was a subject on which Grosseteste changed his mind several times, so gives a fascinating insight into his reading habits, the evolution of his thought, and the encounter of the medieval west with knowledge new and old.