Upcoming Events


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

The Book of the Duchess begins with storm, shipwreck, and revenant – the body of drowned King Ceyx is taken from the seafloor to speak with Queen Alcyone. This talk will argue that this aquatic beginning disrupts the text’s aspirationally anthropocentric preoccupations and puts the power of water at the beginning of Chaucer’s poetic making. In Chaucer’s poem we find a late fourteenth century conception of water as agentic, omnipresent, and estrangingly active on human bodies. Ceyx, the drowned king subject to inanimate forces, is a “Blue King” who provides us with a watery counterpart to the terrestrial Green Knight.

This event is organized by the West Coast research collective, Oecologies, and co-sponsored by the Early Science Workshop.

126 Voorhies, 4:45–6:15 PM

Friday,          May 29

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.

912 Sproul Hall, 10 AM–4 PM



Monday,        December 2

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

Grace Delmolino, Italian, UC Davis

228 Voorhies, 2:10–4 PM

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