OxNet North East Launch Party at the National Glass Centre, Sunderland

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.

Continue reading

New Ordered Universe Publication

The Ordered Universe project is pleased to announce its latest publication, for the Applied Optics journal, Vol. 56 (2017), G197-G204, and fully open access. The experiments and writing of the paper were led and marshalled by expertly  Joshua Harvey (Mellon Foundation funded graduate student at Oxford University, Dept of Engineering Science and Pembroke college), with assistance from other members of the team, from the sciences and humanities. The paper focuses on the middle part of Grosseteste’s treatise On the Rainbow (De iride) and the shape that the rainbow forms in the sky. This precedes discussion of the colours of the rainbow, covered in other Ordered Universe papers. The current paper offers an historical context for the treatise before moving to the main discussion, testing Grosseteste’s optical thought with physical experiment and physics-based simulation. The results are available below, and show, again, the benefits of collaborative working to unlock problems posed by thinkers of the past.

Screen Shot 2017-06-30 at 18.06.45

Below the Moon: Comets, Heat and Water

The next Ordered Universe symposium takes place in the week to come, May 17-19, at Pembroke College, University of Oxford. It will be great to be back at Pembroke, one of the original homes of the project, and to be broaching two new treatises for collaborative reading. These comprise the De cometis – On Comets and the De impressionibus elementorum; the latter connected to argument on the genesis, nature and activity of comets, the latter a discussion of meteorological phenomena, mostly watery (dew, hail, snow and rain). The reading sessions will be using the edition of the De cometis by Cecilia Panti, with translations of the two works, and a draft edition of the De impressionibus by Sigbjørn Sønnesyn. We will be welcoming some new participants to the group, as well as Ross Ashton and Karen Monid from the Projection Studio. The treatises under scrutiny reveal Grosseteste more at home with Aristotelian methodology, and articulating a more scientific approach to physical problems. Key aspects of his thought on sublimation, on light and on grounds for verification and falsification make their appearance, as do a range of different sources alongside Aristotle. The symposium organisation is  principally by the Oxford team, under Hannah Smithson, and the project is extremely grateful to the efforts of Joshua Harvey, Tim Farrant and Clive Siviour, as well as the College conference staff. Set course for Oxford and we’re off! Look out for reports on the progress of the meeting – a copy of the programme is appended here in PDF and also available at Issuu.

Compotus, Correction and Regulation

Fresh from the recent conference at Georgetown University, on the dynamic coupling of aspectus and affectus, the next Ordered Universe colloquium takes another theme close to Grosseteste’s heart: calendrical reform and its related subjects, time, astronomy, medicine, as well as the dating of Easter. The colloquium takes place next week on the 19th and 20th April, at All Souls College, University of Oxford. We will be taking a longer view of compotus in England, and the background to Grosseteste’s own characteristic contribution to the area, the Compotus correctorius. Principally the scholars gathering in Oxford will examine Durham Cathedral Manuscript Hunter 100, a computistical album from the early twelfth century. Investigating the antecedents, and the details of the compendium, allows different light to be shed onto the culture of medieval scientific investigation. Exploring both the texts and images, as well as the communities in and for which the manuscript was produced, the colloquium will provide an in-depth analysis. Other papers will broaden the scope, thinking about the implications of compotus texts from theological and societal perspectives, before ending with a full treatment and discussion of Grosseteste’s place in compotus studies, and the importance of the Compotus correctorius in his scientific canon. With experts including Faith Wallis, Eric Ramírez Weaver, Alfed Lohr and Philipp Nothaft, as well as Ordered Universe regulars, the programme looks exciting!

Hunter 100 Poster 1

We are extremely grateful to All Souls College, and especially to Dr Philipp Nothaft for supporting the colloquium, financially and organisationally as to Durham University and Dr Rosalind Green in the same capacity.

Grosseteste on Space and Place


The latest in the series of Ordered Universe symposia took place last week, between 1st and 3rd September. We gathered in Durham once more, in the hospitable surroundings of St John’s College, to examine two of Grosseteste’s treatises, and review progress on those now in the publication roster (on which more soon). The meeting was, formally, for the 17th collaborative reading symposium of the project. The experience from those meetings showed in the way that the team were able to move between texts, editions, translations Continue reading

Ordered Universe in Brussels

On the 15th June, Giles, Cecilia and Sigbjørn took the Ordered Universe project on the road to Brussels, and, in particular, the Université Libre de Bruxelles. An invitation by Professor Christian Brouwer, Department  of Philosophy and Director of the Bibliothèque des Science Humaines, to present the concept and results of the project in a seminar was an excellent opportunity. Christian and Odile Gilon ran a reading and translation group focused on the De luce of Robert Grosseteste, using Cecilia’s critical editionIt was, therefore, to an expert seminar that we made our presentation, with colleagues including Anja van Rompaey.

The presentation moved from the historical context, the purpose of the Ordered Universe collaboration (the provision of editions, translations, and analyses of Grosseteste’s scientific opuscula), and the nature  of the collaboration in action. Some discussion of our most recent work on the treatise De artibus liberalibus followed, before Cecilia took on the question of Grosseteste’s development of a unitary understanding for first the cause. From the power of celestial bodies, to light, to the notion of radiation, it is clear that Grosseteste’s overriding concern was to consider what the first cause of motion might be. Sigbjørn gave details of some of the problems we have encountered in making the new editions and the solutions we have adopted. A summary of some of the scientific results of the project, modelling the medieval universe and the natural rainbow formed the final section (delivered by humanities scholars – but that we can do so is all part of the spirit of the collaboration!), and the cascade of artistic projects attached to various aspects of Ordered Universe research on Grosseteste. We finished with a showing of the World Machine projection.

A very engaging discussion ensued on the textual problems, how to relate Grosseteste’s different interests to each other especially the issues concerned with theology and science. Wider issues such as mathematical theologies, particularly as articulated by David Albertson, and Grosseteste’s intellectual inheritances, also formed part of the discussion.

Collaboration between the ULB Grosseteste Reading Group and Ordered Universe is very much in formation, and this will be of great benefit to the project.We’re delighted to be forging closer bonds with Christian and his team, one of whom, Anja, will be based in Oxford next year for  post-doctoral fellowship. Greater access to Grosseteste’s scientific works is perhaps the primary aim of the Ordered Universe and it is heart-warming to see this taking place. We will post regularly on the Brussels-Ordered Universe activities, and look forward to seeing our Belgian colleagues soon! The Ordered Universe project members were very grateful for their generous welcome and hospitality and the opportunity to get to know Brussels better.

On the Utility of the Arts

A reminder for Durham-based Ordered Universe participants and devotees, that tomorrow we have a two-session On the Utility of the Arts on Grosseteste’s treatise De artibus liberalibus- On the Liberal Arts. Starting at 10.30 and finishing at 2.30, the seminar takes place in the Hatfield College SCR Dining Room. We will be joined by Faith Wallis from Continue reading

Ordered Universe in Toronto and Kalamazoo in Pictures

Ordered Universe in Toronto May 2016

May 8th-17th: Ordered Universe team members, along with staff and students from Durham University’s Department of History and Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, joined the annual medieval migration to the International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan. We travelled via Toronto, and held a joint conference on Monday 9th May, hosted by colleagues and friends at the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto. This was the third joint Durham-Toronto pre-Kalamazoo Conference, and we are very grateful to Professor Nicholas Everett, Continue reading

‘Writing is thinking.’

Collaborative reading sessions very much form the backbone of Ordered Universe Symposia. The members of the interdisciplinary working group sit around a large table and go through the draft translations provided by Sigbjorn Sonnesyn, and they often find themselves discussing how to best render individual Latin terms in English. The ideal translation conveys what Grosseteste had in mind in a way that’s faithful to the Latin, yet understandable to modern-day readers, and avoidant of terms loaded with modern-day concepts that diverge from the medieval connotations. Continue reading