Visualizing Diversity in Natural History, 16th–17th Centuries

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The next online seminar at Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for the History of Art will host Staffan Müller-Wille and Niklaas Goersch on “Division and Affinity: Visualizing Diversity in Natural History, 16th‒17th Centuries”.

A key development in early modern natural history that so far has received very little attention is the introduction of various dichotomous and tabular diagrams to illustrate classifications of plants and animals in the early modern period. Joachim Jungius (1587-1657), professor and some-time director of the academic school Johanneum in Hamburg, was one of the first scholars to use dichotomous diagrams to carry out a systematic analysis of the morphology and taxonomy of plants.

One and a half centuries later, another teacher at the Hamburg Johanneum, Paul Dietrich Giseke (1741-1796), published a radically different kind of diagram. It was entitled Tabula genealogico-geographica affinitatum plantarum, and arranged plant families in analogy to a map. We are going to analyze how these visualizations were crafted, whether there were models or precedents in other domains, and what purposes they served. Our guiding question will be: Why Hamburg?

Thursday 9 December 2020, 15:00–17:00 CET


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