Travel, Science, and the Question of Observation: 1580-1800

Heyman Center for the Humanities Columbia University

Date & Time
18th October, 2013 @ 09:15:00

Travel, Science, and the Question of Observation: 1580-1800

In the early modern period, the emergence of travel as a means of information gathering on natural history, demography, government, and religion was accompanied by the use of questionnaires to orient observation. This conference investigates the development of techniques of information gathering of this kind and the networks on which they relied. Papers address the integral role of travel in the process of scientific exchange as well as to the ways that information itself traveled in British, French, Spanish, and Swedish contexts.

The conference is supported by generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation ( and by the Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University, with the assistance of the Moore Institute for the Humanities and Social Studies, National University of Ireland, Galway. The “Texts, Contexts, Culture” project is funded under the Higher Education Authority, under PRTLI4.

International conference

Heyman Center for the Humanities

Columbia University

October 18-19, 2013

Friday October 18

Second Floor Common Room, Heyman Center,

Columbia University

9.15 Registration and Welcome (Daniel Carey & Eileen Gillooly)

Session 1: Home and abroad in British questionnaires

Chair: Eileen Gillooly (Columbia University)

Elizabeth Yale (Western Carolina University)

Preparing the ground: topographical query lists and the formation of “Britain” as an object of scientific study in the seventeenth century

Asheesh Siddique (Columbia University)

Questionnaires, paperwork, and the problem of governance in the late eighteenth-century British Atlantic Enlightenment

11.00-11.30 Coffee break

11.30 Session 2: Techniques of inquiry in the 17th century

Chair: Alan Stewart (Columbia University)