In the midst of a flurry of Ordered Universe activity in November, our Peripatetic Principal Investigator Giles Gasper will be joined by Oxford PhD-student Joshua Harvey for a seminar at Swansea University on Thursday November 23. They will present some of the research to be published in the first Ordered Universe volume with Oxford University Press, and give a class for MA students of History at Swansea University. The event is sponsored by The Swansea University History Department Research Seminar series and Swansea University Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Research (MEMO), and organised by Dr. Charles Rozier.
Giles and Joshua will present two treatises, those On the Liberal Arts and On the Generation of Sounds, which form the backbone of the forthcoming volume with OUP. The earliest of Grosseteste writings, they show his developing knowledge of Aristotelian and Arabic science and, in the case of On the Generation of Sounds,a scientific interpretation with implications for modern theory of perception. While Giles, as leading editor and significant contributor to the volume, will situate the texts in their intellectual and historical context, Joshua will use his own cutting-edge research experiments into the phenomena studied by Grosseteste as a basis for exploring the scientific implications of Grosseteste’s written work.
The Ordered Universe Project and OxNet have teamed up for the 2017–2018 academic year to offer an academic course for sixth form students in the north-east of England. The launch will be hosted by The National Glass Centre in Sunderland on Wednesday 22nd November, and local schools, students, and teachers have been invited to join us and learn more about the scheme and what we are planning for 2018.
An extremely interesting conference organised by the Centre for the History and Philosophy of Physics, based at St Cross College, University of Oxford, ‘Astronomy across the Medieval World‘ introduced Chinese, Indian, Islamic, European and Mayan and Aztec astronomy to a wide and diverse audience. The first session of the conference was chaired by Professor Charles Burnett (London), and opened by Dr Giles Gasper (Durham), with an outline of European astronomy, its inheritances, exploring in particular Robert Grosseteste’s treatises On the Sphere, On Comets, On Light and On the Liberal Arts. Professor Christopher Cullen (Cambridge) followed with China and its astronomical systems, meridian measurements, state-sponsored observatories, and belief in a spherical heaven, but flat earth. The links between Chinese and Islamic (or Islamicate) astronomy were also fascinting. Dr Josep Casulleras (Barcelona) completed the morning with a fuller treatment of Islamic astronomy, its inheritances, especially Ptolemy, particular developments and influences. The importance of medieval Islamic astronomy to the scientific revolution was stressed especially.
The afternoon featured two papers, chaired by Professor Silke Ackerman, the first of which, given by Professor Ivan Šprajc (Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts) opened up the subject of pre-Hispanic Mezzo-America. Mayan and Aztec astronomy, its calendar of 365 and 260 days, and the place of star-lore within mezzo-American society were explored in detail, and offered a very interesting parallel with the Eurasian examples from the morning. The final paper of the day came from Dr Benno van Dalen (Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities), who took the case of Ptolemy, tracing the his influence across the Islamic tradition, the European, and the Indian, ending at the court of the Mughal Jai Singh in the early eighteenth century. The proceedings of the day were summarised expertly by Professor Emilie Savage-Smith (Oxford) who emphasised the similarities as well as the differences between the societies presented and their cultures of astronomy. The similarities across the medieval period, the presence of networks of scholar and diffusion of texts across cultural and linguistic boundaries were perhaps the most striking elements of the day.
Organised by Dr Joanna Ashbourn, and taking place in the Department of Physics, the conference attracted some 150 people, with lively question sessions after each talk. All of which made for a stimulating and challenging day, and a very successful one.
The Ordered Universe team has been hard at work over the summer, putting together the first volume for a seven-volume series on Robert Grosseteste’s shorter scientific works to be published by Oxford University Press. The first volume incorporates the Continue reading →
Ordered Universe members took part yesterday in an evening event for Dark Matter Day, organised by Durham University’s Institute of Particular Physics Phenomenology and the Institute for Computational Cosmology (home for Ordered Universe’s Richard Bower). Open to the public, the event featured research, Continue reading →
Pictures from the opening of Illuminating Colour, last Week Friday 20th October. Taken again by Rosie Reed Gold, and featuring the artists, other members of the Ordered Universe team, and all who came to see the show.
For those that haven’t yet managed to get to the National Glass Centre in Sunderland, we have here a guided tour to the exhibition by Cate Watkinson and Colin Rennie. Rosie Reed Gold took the photographs, adding another level of interpretation to the movement from 13th century Latin manuscripts, to editions and translations, to textual analysis (by Continue reading →
On the 10th October 2017 Bishop Grosseteste University held its celebration of Robert Grosseteste with its annual public lecture. This year we were delighted to invite Dr Angelo Silvestri from Cardiff University who provided an excellent lecture to an appreciative audience on, ‘From Romanesque darkness to Gothic light: the architectural and artistic role of Lincoln Cathedral in the episcopacies of Alexander of Lincoln, Hugh of Avalon and Robert Grosseteste.’
Last night saw the launch of Illuminating Colour, a new exhibition from Cate Watkinson and Colin Rennie at the National Glass Centre, University of Sunderland. The exhibition, as readers of this site will know, grew from a collaborative initiative with the Ordered Universe project, Through a Glass Darkly. The exhibition emerged from a series of meetings, collaborative readings, knowledge exchange sessions (learning about glass, living medieval manuscripts), glass-making, planning and exhibits within the Being Human Festival, all of which took place over the last 18 months. Students and staff from Durham, Sunderland and Oxford, as well as the international collaborators from Ordered Universe, have all taken part and contributed, Artists Alexandra Carr, Ross Ashton, Alan Fentiman and Rosie Reed Gold have also been involved from their different media expertise.
The centrepiece of the exhibition is Cate and Colin’s work. Taking Grosseteste’s treatises On Colour and On the Rainbow as the principal inspiration, alongside his thinking on light and other meteorological phenomena, the works have come together over the last year. It has been an enormous privilege to watch this happen, and, at some level, to have been involved. The imagination, craft, skill depth of experience and curiosity to experiment are both mind-blowing and inspiring. The exhibition dwells profoundly on Grosseteste’s statement that ‘Light is colour embodied in a transparent medium’. The end of that treatise, On Colour, invokes the fact that those who are especially skilled can manipulate the medium to make whatever colour they like. This description is applied justly to Cate and Colin, and the pieces they have created.
Illuminating Colour finishes on 11th March 2018, so there is plenty of time to come and visit, and what a reason (if any were needed), to come to the North-East. This is also only the beginning of the collaboration, so stay tuned for further cross-disciplinary exploration of the universe in which we live and how we explain and perceive it. The exhibition is supported by the University of Sunderland, the National Glass Centre, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Durham University and the Ordered Universe project. For those that couldn’t be there last night – some images and a periscope tour of the exhibits – but do come and see the real things!
The Ordered Universe has a new administrative assistant, Sarah Gilbert, a project stalwart who has participated in a number of our symposia and workshops. Sarah has taken up post already, and we are very glad indeed that she has! Sarah will have charge of communications and the day-to-day running of the project with its four strands: academic core, schools outreach, creative arts and public education.
Sarah Gilbert, Durham. Project Administrative Assistant
In her own words:
I am currently in the final stages of a PhD at Durham University (supervised by Helen Foxhall Forbes and Richard Gameson) where my research has focussed on the copying of medical texts into non-medical manuscripts in early medieval England. My wider research interests include palaeography, history of the book, and monastic intellectual culture, with a particular focus on England up to the end of the twelfth century. I am delighted to be joining the Ordered Universe project as an administrative assistant, and I am looking forward to supporting the project members in their efforts to understand and share the brilliance of Robert Grosseteste and his surviving scientific treatises.