Ordered Universe at Leeds International Medieval Congress, 2019

Ordered Universe will be taking part in the 2019 Leeds International Congress, the largest forum for sharing research on the Middle Ages in Europe. The project has a lot to offer on the special conference theme of ‘Materialities’  so we proposed four sessions and a roundtable, all of  which were accepted. The Ordered Universe activities will take place on Tuesday 2nd July 2019, from 9 in the morning until 8 at night! Please do come and find us if you’re going to be at Leeds – and spread the word as well.

09.00-10.30: Session 534: Ordered Universe, I: Robert Grosseteste’s Cosmology – The Physics of Light and the Dimensions of Materiality

Robert Grosseteste is perhaps most famous for his fascination with light. This fascination encompasses the physical, material qualities of light, its emerging role within his scientific works as the building-block of the universe, and the connections, through light, to his metaphysical thinking. These ideas were integral to many of Grosseteste’s works, not only cosmological but also treating physical and theological themes. This session focuses on how Grosseteste’s physics of light and its role in conceptualising dimensionality and materiality found expression in this wider range of texts. How science and humanities research co-operated to explore this vision of the medieval cosmos will also be presented.
Moderator/Chair   Giles E. M. Gasper

Robert Grosseteste: Patterns of Causality, Matter,Light, and the Divine
Nicola Polloni, Institut für Philosophie, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

Grosseteste, Natural Illumination, and Otherworldly Glow in Medieval Preaching Francesca Galli, Facoltà di scienze della comunicazione, Università della svizzera italiana, Lugano

Feeling Disoriented and Keeping Your Eye on the Horizon in 13th Century
Tom McLeish, Department of Physics / Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York


11.15-12.45: Session 634: Ordered Universe, II: Seeing is Believing?: Robert Grosseteste’s Theories of Vision

Optics represents a subject in which Grosseteste made notable contributions to the study of the material world, and it was a subject for which he retained a life-long interest. This session explores his thought on optical phenomena such as the rainbow and his related theory of colour as light embodied in diaphanous media. The importance of modern scientific commentary on Grosseteste’s works in this respect forms a central feature of the session, and the new science emerging from consideration of a medieval thinker. The sense of vision was also central to Grosseteste’s conceptualization of understanding and cognition, and this link between literal and metaphorical vision will also be explored here.
Moderator/Chair   Sigbjorn Sonnesyn, Department of History, Durham University

All the Colours of the Rainbow: Human Colour Science and a 13th Century System of Colour-Ordering
Hannah Smithson, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford

On Colour and the Rainbow in Optics: A Comparative Study on Alhazen and Grosseteste
Nader El-Bizri, Department of Civilisation Studies, American University of Beirut

 Seeing Clearly: Robert Grosseteste, Morality, and Learning
Giles E. M. Gasper


14.15-15.45: Session 734: Ordered Universe, III: What Did the Planets Ever Do For Us? – Robert Grosseteste and the Appliance of Science

The motion of the heavens was a persistent interest for Grosseteste, from his earliest works to his translation completed in his old age of Aristotle’s treatise of the same name. This session explores the appliance of astronomical learning in the calendar, the influence of the planets on meteorological phenomena, and the natural environment. In this endeavour Grosseteste’s Compotusmarks a notable contribution to medieval calendrical debate; his treatise On Cometsan important text raising the question of their physical composition, appearance and perception by human. Grosseteste’s meteorological thought, through various  treatises, will also be considered.
Moderator/Chair   Nicola Polloni, Institut für Philosophie, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

A Discipline at the Crossroads: Grosseteste’s Compotus between Philosophy and Pedagogy
Philipp Nothaft, All Souls College, University of Oxford

Grosseteste, the Weather, and Planetary Impact
Anne Lawrence-Mathers, Department of History, University of Reading

Dating Grosseteste’s Comet: Observation and Report of Comets 1000-1300
Brian Tanner, Department of Physics, Durham University


16.30-18.00: Session 834: Ordered Universe, IV: The Medieval Science of Sound as You’ve Never Heard It Before

Taking as its centrepiece Robert Grosseteste’s treatise On the Generation of Sounds this session approaches the medieval science of sound from a contemporary as well as a historical perspective. Grosseteste’s idiosyncratic account of how sound, and particularly vocal sound, is generated will be discussed on its own terms. In addition, however, modern scientific research can cast further light on the physical and perceptual phenomena surrounding sound that Grosseteste will have observed. The session showcases the exciting collaboration between historical and scientific approaches and the new light that can be shed on a medieval science of sound.
Moderator/Chair   Tom McLeish, Department of Physics / Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York

Seeing Sound as Movement in the Medieval Mind
Joshua Harvey, Department of Engineering Science /Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford

‘O’ Sounds Round: Crossmodal Correspondences in Sound and Speech
Rebekah White, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford

The Sound of Silence: Grosseteste’s ‘On the Generation of Sound’ and the Secret Reception of Aristotle’s Natural Philosophy
Sigbjørn Olsen Sønnesyn, Department of History, Durham University


19.00-20.00: Session 934: Ordered Universe: The Human Being as Microcosm – The Sciences and Humanities in Collaboration – A Round Table Discussion

Bringing together medieval specialists and modern scientists is an unusual thing to do. However, in the case of exploring medieval science it has proved, in the context of the Ordered Universe project a vital element in the elucidation of complex treatises on natural phenomena. The proposed round table will debate the interdisciplinary methodology and broaden the implications for such radical collaborative working from the scientific works of Robert Grosseteste to pre-modern science more generally conceived. How collaboration is best articulated and practiced will form a significant part of the debate, which will involve representatives from a variety of different disciplines.

Participants include:
Laura Cleaver (Trinity College Dublin)
Nader El-Bizri (American University of Beirut)
Joshua Harvey (University of Oxford)
Clive Siviour (University of Oxford)
Brian Tanner (Durham University)
Cate Wilkinson (University of Sunderland).

Moderator/Chair   Tom McLeish, Department of Physics / Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York

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