Jennifer M. Rampling, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, History of Science Program, Princeton University
Date: Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Location: Frick Chemistry Laboratory, Princeton University
Time: Mixer 5:30 pm; Lecture 6:30 pm followed by dinner
Abstract: How did early modern alchemists set about trying to make the philosophers’ stone? Often, their first step was to turn to the instructions written by their predecessors. Yet alchemical writing often seems to obfuscate more than it explains: omitting vital information, disguising ingredients and practices behind cover names, and describing outcomes that seem, to modern eyes, impossible. In this talk, I shall discuss how European alchemists approached medieval texts and images with a view to reconstructing their practical content —interpreting code names and allegories in order to extract meaningful chemical recipes. I will also report on my own attempts to follow these instructions, by trying out alchemical experiments in a modern laboratory setting.
Biography: Jennifer M. Rampling is historian of medieval and early modern science and medicine, specialising in alchemy. She is currently completing her first book, which studies the strategies used by English alchemists over four centuries to decipher and reconstruct chemical practices. Formerly she was Editor of Ambix, the leading history of chemistry journal. She teaches in Princeton’s Program in History of Science, and is a faculty member of PRISM, where she will be working with students this Spring to reconstruct some early alchemical recipes.
Reservations: The meeting will be held in Frick Laboratory, Princeton University. The social mixer will begin at 5:30 pm in the CaFe area of Taylor Commons. The lecture will be held in the Auditorium at 6:30 pm followed by dinner in Taylor Commons (CaFe area). Frick Laboratory is located at the east end of the pedestrian bridge on Washington Rd, adjacent to the Weaver Track and Field Stadium. Parking is available in Lot 21, corner of Faculty Road and Fitzrandolph Road or other lots along Ivy Lane (see http://m.princeton.edu/map/). The seminar is free and open to the public. Reservations are required for dinner, which is $20 ($10 for students). Please contact Louise Lawter at email@example.com or 215-428-1475 by March 23 to make reservations. Reservations must be canceled no later than March 27 to avoid being billed for the dinner.