Minor in Health Studies - Hidden Worlds: Microscopy in Early Modern Europe HSTC 3310   Hidden Worlds: Microscopy in Early Modern Europe
Microscopes were introduced into Europe at the beginning of the seventeenth century. In the words of Robert Hooke, the microscope opened up a “new visible World” to the understanding -- a strange new landscape populated by vast numbers of new creatures. This course will explore the influence the microscope, and the micro world that it opened up, in the development of early modern science. In the first part of the course, we will take a close look at early microscope technology and its evolution in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries. The second part of the course will explore the role of the microscope in the evolution of early modern science. We will, for example, consider the role of microscopy in the emergence of the new mechanical philosophy and the new experimental science. We will also discuss the histories of some scientific theories (for example, of contagion and generation) that made particular use of observations made with microscopes. Finally, the microscope’s revelation of “new worlds” raised conceptual difficulties that puzzled scientists and philosophers alike. In the final part of the course we will consider the challenges that new kinds of experience raised for early modern philosophy, as well as the possible influence of philosophical debates on the acceptance of the new technology.
  • Lecture
  • Seminar