These are strange times in which we find ourselves with disruption and disorder around us, and important concerns that dominate. In the midst of this it is important as well that we continue with our work and look to what we can do to sustain our collective endeavours. Looking back at the past is one way in which to gain some measure of comport in the current situation, both in terms of examples of resilience within communities to disease and disaster, natural and man-made, and in terms of the wonder at the world expressed by previous generations. To be under lockdown does not mean that we can’t travel, and with an incredible array of guides.
Ordered Universe has, then, been quite busy in the last few months. We have new publications to let you know about, a new phase for the project, and new plans for working in different ways with all sorts of communities. We will put up separate posts on all of these activities – some taking place in the very near future. For the moment, we have to report that the major AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK) came to a close in March 2020, having started in October 2015, so a good long run. We have been able to do so much with the funding, with 11 full-scale collaborative reading symposia; over 60 public talks, workshops, and event, from Festivals to Cathedral leaning days, from Italy to Canada, the USA, and around the UK; numerous conferences and invited talks, from Odense and Brussels to Boston and Berkeley, and across a wider range of disciplines, from the International Medieval Congresses at Leeds and Kalamazoo to the British Society of Philosophy, and the Global Aspiring Medics Conference in Hong Kong; two exhibitions, with the National Glass Centre, there and at Pembroke College, Oxford, working with artists including Colin Rennie and Cate Watkinson, chronicled by filmmaker Alan Fentiman; an artistic residency with Alexandra Carr, involving two exhibitions, a sculpture of the nested spheres of the medieval cosmos, temporary installations, light painting, collaboration with photographer Rosie Reed Gold, and line drawings; over 7 sound and light shows with Ross Ashton and Karen Monid of The Projection Studio, from World Machine at Durham Lumiere to Horizon at the Napa Lighted Art Festival, via the Berlin Light Festival, Cambridge e-Luminate and many others; and three years of work in a scheme to raise aspirations for university applications amongst sixth-formers from non-traditional backgrounds. We’ve also published over 24 academic works: journal articles, book chapters, edited volumes, and, to date, the first in our six-volume series of Grosseteste’s scientific oeuvre with Oxford University Press.
An intense phase of work then, with a lot of people, with widely differing experience and perspectives, from undergraduates to emeritii, all contributing to elucidation of a remarkable thinker from the 13th century, and exploring the implications of his engagement with natural phemonena, in his own context, and in terms of how we understand these phenomena today. The three investigators Giles Gasper, Hannah Smithson, and Tom McLeish, have been helped and supported by the considerable efforts of the research team – Cecilia Panti, Neil Lewis, Brian Tanner, Clive Siviour, Faith Wallis, Jack Cunningham, Peter Claus, Nader El-Bizri, David Thomson, Luigi Campi, Nicola Polloni, Seb Falk, Laura Cleaver and Sarah Griffin (amongst many others). Though it is invidious to single out individuals, our particular thanks are to the three administrators for the programme, Rachael Matthews, Roz Green, and Sarah Gilbert. And, especially to our three post-doctoral researchers, brilliant, hard-working, and the engine-room of the project: Joshua Harvey, Rebekah White, and Sigbjørn Sønnesyn. So much would not have been possible without them.
Ordered Universe continues – the next series of symposia are in planning, whether virtually or in person, and there are many activities and lines of research that are on-going. So, this is by way of a phase transition (a term introduced to the humanities part of the team by the scientists [Brian Tanner in particular] in our discussion of De luce – On Light); and there is a lot of work still to be done! We hope that the world becomes more ordered, and look forward to letting you know about what we’re up to.