Finding lost science in early modern poetry

Show Navigation

By | Early Medicine, Events and Visits

Workshop: Finding lost science in early modern poetry
Wednesday 22 November 2017, Wellcome Library, Wellcome Collection

Engraving relating to syphilis.

Hieronymus Fracastorius (Girolamo Fracastoro) shows the shepherd Syphilus and the hunter Ilceus a statue of Venus to warn them against the danger of syphilis. Engraving by Jan Sadeler I, 1588 or 1595, after Christoph Schwartz. Iconographic no. 524739i. Wellcome Images L0031325.

Didactic poetry of the early modern period can reveal fascinating insights about what people of the time thought about science and how they expressed these ideas in poetic form. Texts of this literary genre, however, tend to be neglected because they are regarded neither as ‘proper scientific texts’ nor as ‘proper poetry’. This workshop, organised by the Society for Neo-Latin Studies, Wellcome Collection and the Department of Greek & Latin at University College London, aims to bring this type of literature into focus again. Specialists from a range of disciplinary backgrounds will present case studies, looking at a variety of English and Latin texts, and there will be plenty of opportunity for discussion. The day will conclude with a public event as part of the Being Human festival.


12.45–1.00 pm: Registration

1.00–1.15 pm: Welcome and introduction

1.15–2.00 pm: Claire Preston (Queen Mary University of London), ‘The gallery, the eye, and the rhetoric of observation in some 17th-century descriptions’

2.00–2.45 pm: David McOmish (University of Glasgow), ‘Teaching the Scientific Revolution in verse: when poetry ruled the cosmos’

2.45–3.15 pm: Coffee/tea

3.15–4.00 pm: Victoria Moul (King’s College London), ‘Latin poetry and medicine’

4.00–4.15 pm: Closing discussion

4.30–6.00 pm: Public event as part of the Being Human festival

Location: Wellcome Library, Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE.

The workshop and public event are free to attend. To register to attend the workshop, contact Gesine Manuwald ( by 20 November 2017. No registration is needed to attend the public event.

Elma Brenner

Elma Brenner

Dr Elma Brenner is the Wellcome Library’s subject specialist in medieval and early modern medicine. Her research examines the medical and religious culture of medieval France and England, especially the region of Normandy. She is also interested in the materiality of early books and manuscripts, and the digital humanities. For her publications, see She can be found on Twitter @elmabrenner.

See more posts by this author

Related Blog Posts