Pamela O. Long, "Artisan/Practitioners and the Rise of the New Sciences, 1400-1600" (Oregon State UP, 2011)


Pamela O. Long's clear, accessible, and elegantly written recent book explores the ways that artisan/practitioners influenced the development of the new sciences in the years between 1400 and 1600. Artisan/Practitioners and the Rise of the New Sciences, 1400-1600 (Oregon State University Press, 2011) introduces the notion of a "trading zone," building on the articulation of the concept in anthropology and in the work of Peter Galison, to explain the gradual breaking-down of the distinction between learned scholars and artist/practitioners as distinct and coherent entities in early modern Europe. Several kinds of trading zones, from the Vitruvian tradition to the physical spaces of arsenals and the city of Rome, provided common ground on which both practitioners and university-educated men came together to share ideas about substantive issues. As a result of this interchange, Long argues, empirical values that had been intrinsic to artisanal work came to be embedded more broadly in European culture, and categories that had initially been bifurcated (like art and nature) became more interchangeable. Long guides readers from a historiographical account of the idea of artisanal influence on the new sciences as it has emerged and developed since the 1920s, and through a series of engaging chapters that introduce works and figures that are crucial to the development of these ideas, including a wonderful account of the architecture of Rome from the pages of Vitruvius through the streets of a city dotted with obelisks and occasionally overcome with waters. Enjoy!

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