Charles Webster Lecture
6 March 2012, University of Oxford
On Tuesday 6 March 2012, Charles Webster presented his lecture: ‘Paracelsus: Chemistry and Revolution’, in the History Faculty Lecture Theatre at the University of Oxford. The lecture was sponsored by SHAC, chaired by Professor Pietro Corsi and organised by Dr Anna Marie Roos.
Charles Webster was senior research fellow at All Souls College and previously Reader in the History of Medicine and Director of the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, University of Oxford. He is well known for his magisterial study of the Baconian tradition in seventeenth-century science, The Great Instauration: Science, Medicine and Reform, 1626-1660 (1975). In Oxford, he combined his work on early modern science and medicine with a parallel commitment to the history of the National Health Service. As the Official Historian of the NHS, Dr Webster produced a two-volume history of the organisation published in 1988 and 1996. His elegant and definitive analysis of the life and works of Paracelsus, Paracelsus, Medicine, Magic and Mission at the End of Time (2008) was shortlisted for the History of Science Society’s Pfizer Prize
In his talk, Dr Webster presented a close analysis of Paracelsus’s observation of minerals and metallogenesis, with photographs of the actual mines that the chymist visited during the course of his investigations. Webster also delineated the important differences between Paracelsus and Paracelsianism, his work concentrating on delineating Paracelsus himself as a live and constructive force in specialised areas of natural philosophy. A lively question-and-answer session followed, chaired by Professor Pietro Corsi, and there was a well-attended reception in the History Faculty complete with a Paracelsus cake, which certainly contained salt, if not the other two components of the tria prima.
Anna Marie Roos
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Autumn Meeting: ‘What’s the Matter? The Material Culture of Chemistry’
8 December 2012, Science Museum London
The Autumn 2012 meeting, ‘What’s the Matter? The Material Culture of Chemistry’ was held at the Science Museum, London, on Saturday December 8. A report on the meeting is being prepared.
The AGM of the Society was held immediately before this meeting.
‘What’s the Matter?’ included a day of talk, tours and discussion, exploring the rich material culture of alchemy, chemistry and the chemical sciences, hosted by the Science Museum of London. From gold to gunpowder, books to crucibles, we’ve explored what objects can teach us about chemistry’s past.
Guided tours of “James Watt and our World” (including Watt’s workshop), and “Signs, Symbols, Secrets: An Illustrated Guide to Alchemy.”
Talks by guest speakers and guides:
* Marcos Martinon-Torres (UCL)
* Haileigh Robertson (University of Leeds)
* Robert Anderson (Clare College, Cambridge)
* Robert Bud (Science Museum)
* Peter Oakley (UCL)
* Jane Insley (Science Museum)
* Jennifer Rampling (University of Cambridge)