Upcoming Events


Thursday,          November 19

Writing the Plague: How Roman Disease Infected Literature”

A conversation with Hunter Gardner (Classics, University of South Carolina) and Caroline Wazer (Lapham’s Quarterly)

Plagues are paradoxical. Even as they wreak havoc on bodies and stress institutions, they can be grimly productive. As contagion reaches out to touch us, it vividly articulates the strands of our social networks and casts new light on the shapes and natures of our communities. For this reason, the implacable destruction of pestilence is an especially powerful metaphor for imagining social and civil strife. Join us on Zoom to hear Hunter Gardner and Caroline Wazer discuss Gardner’s new book, Pestilence and the Body Politic in Latin Literature. We will explore the power of pestilence on both the Roman literary imagination and its civic mentality. We will also examine how it can speak to our own nosological and civic plagues.

Zoom, 2–3:30 PM (PST). Sign up here to receive the link.

This event is co-sponsored by the Society for Ancient Medicine and Pharmacology.

For information, please contact Colin Webster or Calloway Scott.

Spring 2021, date to be announced

Symposium: “Beyond Causality: Prediction, Prophesy and the Practices of Early Science”

For many years, the standard origin story of natural philosophy claimed that science was born in 6th century BCE Greece, as philosophers like Thales, Anaximander and the other Presocratic physikoi started to explain the cosmos and its constituent phenomena according to “natural causes.” In this telling, philosophy emancipated itself from previous mythic cosmologies by relying on the notion of nature (physis) to formulate causal accounts of the world and its components. Yet ancient cultures engaged in many modes of knowledge practice, including systematic celestial prophesy, astrometeorological prediction, dream prognosis, and various forms of forecasting. This conference brings together scholars from various field to explore how prediction and prophesy were incorporated within the systems of early science, exploring the ways in which causality met with other modes of knowing. Contributions come from the fields of Egyptology, Early Jewish Science, Greek and Roman Science. Participants include Rita Lucarelli (UC Berkeley), Seth Sanders (UC Davis), Elizabeth Hamm (St. Mary’s) and Calloway Scott (Cincinatti).

For inquiries, contact Colin Webster.



Thursday, February 6

The Blue King and the Power of Water in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Book of the Duchess

Brantley Bryant, English, Sonoma State University


Monday,        December 2

Work in Progress: “Boccaccio’s Study of Canon Law and the History of the University”

Grace Delmolino, Italian, UC Davis

Monday,        October 21

Butchers, Cannibals, and Meat-Eating in Seventeenth-Century Rome

Brad Bouley, History, University of California, Santa Barbara

Friday,                May 17

Symposium: “Innovation, Communication and Empire: Knowledge And Technology In The Early Modern Spanish World”

Daniela Bleichmar (University of Southern California), Renée Raphael (University of California, Irvine), Andrés Resendez (UC Davis), and John Lopez (UC Davis)

View the program.

Wednesday,        May 8

Work in Progress: “Earth Trembled: Climate Change in Paradise Lost”

Tobias Menely English, UC Davis

Monday,          April 8

The Body in Question: Science and Vitalist Reform in the Spanish Enlightenment

Nicolás Fernández Medina, Spanish and Philosophy, Penn State University

Wednesday,        February 27

Work in Progress: “What Was the Orient of Early Modern Scholars? ‘Oriental Languages’ and the Roots of Academic Orientalism”

Daniel Stolzenberg, History, UC Davis

Thursday,            January 31

The Kunstkammer at War: Johann Daniel Major (1634-1693) Recruits the Collection for Experiment

Vera Keller, History, University of Oregon 


Wednesday,  November 7

Seasoning Sickness and the Imaginative Geography of the British Empire

Suman Seth, Science & Technology Studies, Cornell University

Wednesday, October 17

Work in Progress: “Technoscience vs. Technonature: Tools, Implements and Ancient Science”

Colin Webster, Classics, UC Davis

Friday,    October 5

Tulips and Turbans in Renaissance Art and Natural History

Vin Nardizzi, English, University of British Columbia