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Call for Papers: Diagrams in Science, Science in Diagrams, 1300–1700

The online conference “Diagrams in Science, Science in Diagrams: 1300–1700”, to be held from June 14th-18th, 2021, is now accepting paper submissions until September 15th, 2020.

This conference is being organized by the Max Planck Research Group Visualizing Science in Media Revolutions. It is based on the belief that it is important to study the history of the diagram as part of the “scientific toolbox”, against the backdrop of broader scientific, technological and social developments, to understand more about the use, function, and epistemic value of images in premodern science in general.

The conference therefore will aim to do so by comparing the development and use of diagrams in all strands of premodern scientific knowledge between approx. 1300 and 1700, and tracing the emergences and the disruptions of traditions of diagrams in all fields of scientific theory and practice, e.g. (but not restricted to) geometry, astronomy, medicine, philosophy, alchemy, law, theology, and music.

Contributors are asked to focus on a limited set of diagrams of one tradition or field and to address, among others, questions such as the following:

1. Do the diagrams under investigation come from a precise tradition or do they form the foundation of such a tradition?
2. What is the scientific/disciplinary context of the diagrams under investigation and how do they relate to it?
3. What is the aim of the diagrams under investigation (illustration, explanation, demonstration, etc.)?
4. How does the medium carrying diagrams under investigation impact their form and role (print, manuscript)?
5. What are the most intriguing visual/graphical features to be found in the diagrams under investigation?
6. How do the diagrams under investigation interact with the text and which vocabulary is used to refer to the diagrams?
7. What justifies the diagrams under investigation to be labelled as ‘diagrams’ (and not ‘tables’, ‘maps’, etc.) and what is a reasonable demarcation line here?
8. How do the diagrams under investigation relate to scientific practices (experiments, taking measures, etc.)?

The conference will take place on June 14–18, 2021, entirely online, in two 90-minute sessions per day. Presentations will be based on pre-circulated papers, which will then be prepared for publication. To participate as a speaker, please send the following documents to  by September 15th, 2020:

• Title
• Abstract (300 words)
• Short CV, including full name, affiliation and email address

View the announcement on the Max Planck Institute website.




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