Corpus of texts

Since recipes are almost everywhere in early modern Europe, our project could have started with very different sets of textual corpuses. We have decided to begin with texts we know better; texts belonging to a certain “Baconian tradition” of experimental philosophy. This is an opportunistic choice because one has to begin somewhere. But we hope that as the project grows we will grow and diversify our corpus of texts and bring to the attention of the scholarly community a whole set of “ways of enactment” one can meet with in early modern texts.

We have organized our textual corpus in the following clusters, in order to break-up our tasks for the next three years. In each case, we do not aim at a comprehensive survey. We merely aim to select what we will show are interesting (and relevant) examples of “enactment” & transformation of traditional recipes into something new, i.e., either technologies or experiments.

  1. Books of recipes, translations and correspondence relating to the reception, in England, of the second edition of Giovanni Battista della Porta’s Magia naturalis.
    1. The notebooks of Hugh Plat. Lawyer, philosopher and entrepreneur, with an interest in developing technologies and selling patents (in the late sixteenth century and the early seventeenth century). Hugh Platt is extremely important because he is a key actor in the reception  of Della Porta’s Magia naturalis (Mukherjee 2010, 2011) in Englandand he was also a vehicle of transmission of ideas and recipes from Della Porta to Bacon and the Baconians of the seventeenth century. 
    2. Correspondence connected with the publication, in 1658, of the English translation of Della Porta (Natural magick). We claim that this volume is an essential example of the transformation of the recipe format which takes place when a work is put in a new context (of reading and practices). In this case, the context is, as we intent to show, that of the Baconian natural and experimental history. Dana Jalobeanu will continue her investigations of this volume (whose translator and context of publication is, to date, unknown, (Jalobeanu, 2020)).
  2. Readers of the Sylva Sylvarum. The second cluster of texts relate to the reception, publication (of successive editions), translation and circulation of Francis Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum in seventeenth century Europe. A special attention will be devoted to the “scientific” readers (and editors) of the two books, to the correspondence and manuscript work (and marginalia) they generated. In addition to these (mainly) published works we will work on correspondence and manuscripts.
    1. The manuscripts of John Evelyn concerning trades
    2. The manuscripts of Henry Power. Natural philosopher, mathematician and experimenter, thorough Baconian and supporter of a certain brand of experimental philosophy. Henry Power left extensive manuscript records hosted by the British Library which were never subject to a thorough investigation.

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