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 Continue reading
Maybe it was happy memories of touring Napa Valley wineries some years ago, but when I was offered the opportunity of taking part in the Napa Lighted Art Festival this coming January, I had no hesitation in accepting. For the past 10 years, Durham (UK) has had a similar event, Lumière, so I am expecting a spectacular visual experience. The Ordered Universe team is participating in the associated public activities series and I relish the thought of sharing my experiences of light in all its forms with residents and visitors to Napa. Colin Rennie and I will present a session ‘Beyond the Visible’ where we will go on a journey from X-Ray Imaging via Radio Astronomy to glass Art, all inspired by the science of the electromagnetic spectrum and one great thinker in particular, the 13thcentury polymath, Robert Grosseteste. The creative fusion between medieval European theories, modern vision science and glass art unlocks artistic inspiration and experience, which always surprises me. It is never what I expect from our artist collaborators.
We will also enjoy showing visitors how simple optics experiments and observations, that they can themselves do with minimal apparatus, have a deep-rooted history in the medieval and classical worlds. I look forward to evenings revelling in the pieces of light art to be projected on to buildings, objects and in spaces. And, of course, there is the wine.
Color est lux incoporata perspicuo – Colour is light incorporated in a transparent medium
We’re very pleased to announce that the Ordered Universe website is now hosting a downloadable PDF of the working transcript of Grosseteste’s Dicta prepared by Edwin J. Westermann and Joseph W. Goering. We’re extremely grateful to Professor Goering for making the transcript available in this way, and these fascinating texts open to a wider audience. The PDF is available under Resources-Dicta. We hope that this will be of service and use to all interested in the fields that the Dicta touch upon. The essential starting point for contextualising the Dicta is Professor Goering’s article: ‘Robert Grosseteste’s Dicta: The State of the Question’ in John Flood, James R. Ginther and Joseph W. Goering, eds., Robert Grosseteste and His Intellectual Milieu(Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2013) pp. 64-86.
In addition, thanks to the kind offices of Gordon Jackson, Bishop Grosseteste University, his English translation will also be made available on the website – the first two volumes are to be found under the same page-heading.
Over the last three days, some member of the Ordered Universe have been attending the North American Conference on British Studies at its annual meeting, this year in Providence, Rhode Island. The conference covers all aspects of British culture, from the medieval period to the present-day. So, Ordered Universe research was presented Continue reading
Towards the end of next week the North American Conference on British Studies takes place, meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, USA. Founded in 1950, the NACBS is a society focused on all aspects of the study of British culture. This includes the Middle Ages, and it is a great privilege to have the opportunity to present Ordered Universe research to the Society at the conference. We have a session dedicated to twelfth and thirteenth century history: ‘Ordering Intellectual Life in Twelfth and Thirteenth- Century England’, sponsored through Durham University’s Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies.
Moving from monastic thinking, to historical writing, and the impact of translated works of Aristotle, the session features:
Sigbjørn Sønnesyn (Durham) on ‘Robert Grosseteste and the Early Reception of Aristotle’s Natural Philosophy in England’;
Laura Cleaver (Trinity College, Dublin) on ‘The Circulation of History in England: The Case of King Lear’
and Lauren Mancia (CUNY Brooklyn) on ‘Monastic Spiritual Thought: Emotional or Intellectual?’
In addition Giles Gasper will be presenting on ‘Durham Cathedral MS A.II.12: Science, Pastoral Care and Robert Grosseteste’, in a session, also sponsored by Durham IMEMS, on the Durham Priory Re-created project. A.III.12 is an important manuscript for the early history of how Grosseteste’s works circulated, and includes parts of his commentary on Psalms, Dicta and sermons. How it arrived in Durham, by 1258 at the latest, is intriguing.
We’ll post updates on the NACBS conference as well as the earlier talk in Boston, and enjoy very much presenting the Ordered Universe and research on Grosseteste’s scientific works.
Next week, Sigbjørn Sønnesyn and Giles Gasper will be talking about the Ordered Universe at Boston College, USA, Thursday 25th October, starting at 7.00 pm. They will be speaking on ‘Knowing through Speaking: Collaborative Learning through Interdisciplinary Research on Medieval Science.’
Bringing together a unique configuration of natural scientists, social scientists and arts and humanities scholars, the Ordered Universe Project integrates the conceptual tools of modern science with the textual methods of the humanities to explore the richness of Grosseteste’s thought. Each team member, from whatever discipline, contributes to editions, translations, analyses and presentations. In so doing, we are pioneering new ways of working across and between our disciplines. Trusting one another, and learning to learn from the past have presented creative demands. We have challenged academic and public preconceptions regarding the value of past science as ‘irrelevant’. To the contrary: the team has published new science (on rainbows, colour and cosmology) inspired by engaging with another thinker from eight centuries ago. The centre and heart of the project are our collaborative reading workshops: we all sit down together, and, word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, grapple with and unlock the amazing world which Grosseteste opens up.
We’re delighted to be at Boston College, and very grateful indeed to Professors Eileen Sweeney and Boyd Coolman for arranging for this to happen. To speak to diverse audiences, to engage with their views and reactions is extremely important to the project. Boston, here we come!
Last week Ordered Universe members gathered in Dublin, hosted by Laura Cleaver and Karl Kinsella at Trinity College and Marsh’s Library. With our usual range of disciplines represented (philosophy, history, psychology, engineering, physics, creative arts, history of art), and with colleagues from Europe and the USA, we set to work on the four treatises for collaborative reading. Two days in Trinity, at the Long Room Hub, saw the group read through the middle third of Grosseteste’s treatise On the Supercelestial Motions. This challenging treatise deals with the question how the planets move, whether by external force, their nature, and what the effects of their movements are. We also read through, for the second time, On Bodily Motion and Light. Another complex piece of writing, the treatise focuses again on how bodies move, with a more consistent parallel with animal bodies, and exploration of medical material. This treatise ends with a startling passage on light as prime form; highly reminiscent of the treatise On Light. Continue reading
With less than a week to go before the next Ordered Universe symposium we have been making all of our preparations, including the full programme above. The four treatises for discussion are all in good shape, and we’re looking forward, as always, to the intensive reading process. To accompany our deliberations we have some shorter talks, by Professor Brian Tanner on the physics of light (just a small area of science!), and talks by Dr Cate Watkinson, Rosie Reed-Gold and Alexandra Carr, on their artistic engagement with the project. Our public lecture takes place on Tuesday 18th. The texts all concern light and motion, in their various ways, and reveal the amazing capacity of Grosseteste’s mind. We’ll keep you updated on our progress!
January 2019 – if you’re in or around Napa California, drop into the Napa Lighted Festival which runs in the second two weeks of the month. Various members of the Ordered Universe team will be participating with a series of talks and activities in the afternoons and evenings of the 17th, 18th, 19th. We’re thrilled by the invitation to work for and with the Festival, which came about through Ross Ashton and Karen Monid of The Projection Studio. With a festival theme of Beyond, we’ll be working with Ross and Karen on a new projection show drawing on Grosseteste’s cosmological treatises: Horizon. On the Six ‘Diffeertiae’, On the Sphere, and others will feature in the new piece, under development at the moment. Taking research from the seminar-room to a different audience, in partnership with artistic collaborators is a fascinating and exhilarating experience. We’re very much looking forward to working with the Parks and Recreation Department in Napa to bring the best that we can to the city. Continue reading
It is a particular pleasure to be able to report on progress on Ordered Universe publications. The main news is that our first volume in the seven-volume series with Oxford University Press is completed and is accepted for publication. Knowing and Speaking presents the first two of Grosseteste’s treatises On the Liberal Arts and On the Generation of Sounds, alongside the Middle English re-imagining of both texts as part of the longer The Seven Liberal Arts. Continue reading