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  • Monday, January 24, 2022 - 5:15pm to 6:30pm

Location: Zoom

We will be welcoming Pamela H. Smith (Columbia) for a talk entitled "Making and Knowing in Early Modern How-To Texts." Pamela writes:

An intriguing late sixteenth-century anonymous manuscript, Ms. Fr. 640 (now held by the Bibliothèque nationale de France), contains over 900 "recipes" for objects of art and of everyday use. In 2020, the Making and Knowing Project released a digital critical edition and English translation of this manuscript ( The technical and artistic content of Ms. Fr. 640 provides an opportunity to explore the meanings and conceptualization of making and materials in early modern how-to texts, as well as the type of knowledge they contain. The lecture will also introduce the digital edition of Ms. Fr. 640. Pamela H. Smith is Seth Low professor of history at Columbia University, and founding Director of the Center for Science and Society and of its cluster project The Making and Knowing Project ( Her articles and books examine craft and practice, and its relationship to scientific knowledge. The Body of the Artisan (2004), and her forthcoming From Lived Experience to the Written Word: Reconstructing Practical Knowledge in the Early Modern World (Chicago 2022) make a case for treating craft/art as a way of knowing. Her edited volumes, Ways of Making and Knowing (ed. with Amy R. W. Meyers and Harold Cook, pbk 2017) and The Matter of Art (ed. with Christy Anderson and Anne Dunlop, pbk 2016), treat materiality, making and meaning. An edited volume, Entangled Itineraries: Materials, Practices, and Knowledges across Eurasia (2019), deals with the movement of materials and knowledge across Eurasia before 1800. In the collaborative research and teaching initiative The Making and Knowing Project, she and the Making and Knowing Team investigate the intersection of craft making and scientific knowing by text-, object-, and laboratory-based research on technical texts. In 2020 they released a digital critical edition and English translation of a sixteenth-century technical and artistic manual as Secrets of Craft and Nature in Renaissance France.