Introduction to “The Illustrated Scientific Book to 1800”

Roger Gaskell and Caroline Duroselle-Melish

A live-only 45-minute webinar followed by 15 minutes of Q&A scheduled for 23 September 2020, 12–1 p.m. ET, via Zoom. 

Registration was open to students who had been admitted to or waitlisted for the Summer 2020 iteration of I-40 “The Illustrated Scientific Book to 1800.” Registration is now closed.

You may have read about “Vesalius’s woodcuts of human anatomy” or “Catesby’s plates of American flora and fauna,” but Vesalius did not draw the pictures; still less did he cut the blocks. Catesby, unable to afford a professional engraver, learned to etch his own plates. In order to “read” scientific illustrations in context, we consider not just the origin of the pictures but what limitations and opportunities the printmaking techniques afforded, the available technologies for printing images with text, and the various agents involved––not just the author. This forms the basis for the analysis and description of scientific images and their operation in the creation and communication of scientific facts.