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2014 Kemp Symposium

Kemp Symposium 2014


“Visions of Reality: Science and Other Means of Seeking Knowledge”
April 17−18, 2014

Sponsored by Robert J. Kemp Lectureship Fund, Department of History, Department of Asian Studies, Department of Religion, Department of Chemistry, Department of Earth and Oceanographic Science
Modern science enjoys a prominent place and enormous authority in our age. Such prestige is the outcome of a long historical process, during which scientific knowledge and method have been gradually promoted over other forms of knowledge and methods of inquiry. This symposium will bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to examine the diverse means of creating technical knowledge before and after the birth of modern science. The keynote address and the panels will highlight the latest scholarship on a range of issues from scientific transference between traditional China and the West to nuclear power during the Cold War period.

7:30 p.m. -9:00 p.m., Thursday, keynote address by Don J. Wyatt
Main Lounge, Moulton Union
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Friday, panels, “The Peripatetic,” “The Encyclopedic,” “The Reflexive,” “The Pious,” and “The Mathematical”
Main Lounge, Moulton Union

2. Keynote: Speaker and Abstract

Dr. Don J. Wyatt
John M. McCardell, Jr. Distinguished Professor of History, Middlebury College

The Spear and Shield of Knowledge: Scientific Transference and Cultural Obstruction between China and the West
Examples of the transference of science and technology that have occurred in the long history of contact between China and the West are abundant, momentous, and memorable. However, whether we are considering the ancient transmission of sericulture from China westward or early modern astronomical methods from the West eastward, we err gravely if we assume that such transfers always occurred freely, smoothly, and easily. On the contrary, attending each instance of transference is a contested history involving intense competition and even adversarial struggle over the possession, safeguarding, and retention of one’s own scientific and technological knowledge. This talk illustrates how certain early proprietary conflicts between the West and China for advantage in the sphere of science arose and ensued, and why these events have continued to contribute so profoundly to the mixed attitudes of mutual attraction and distrust that pervade contemporary Sino-Western


3. Participants, Panels, and Paper Titles

Dialogue I. The Peripatetic
Dr. Jan Golinski (University of New Hampshire)
A Career in Transit: James Dinwiddie and the Circulation of Knowledge between East and West

Dr. Robert Morrison (Bowdoin College)
Scholarly intermediaries between the Ottoman Empire and Renaissance Italy

 Dialogue II. The Encyclopedic
Dr. Eugenia Lean (Columbia University)
Made to Order: Industrial Science, “Empirical” Practice (Shiyan) and Disciplining Knowledge in 1930s’ Chinese Technical Manuals
Dr. Meghan Roberts (Bowdoin College)
Antoine Lavoisier’s Organic Enlightenment

Dialogue III. The Reflexive
Dr. David Hecht (Bowdoin College)
The Dream of Nuclear Power: History, Technology, and the "Quick Fix"
Dr. Keith Peterson (Colby College)
Values in Science as Social Knowledge: The Case of Reflexive Ecology

Dialogue IV. The Pious
Dr. Pierce Salguero (Penn State University/Abington College)
The Canon of Chinese Buddhist Medicine: Its Construction in the 7th Century, and Some of its Ramifications for Present-day Scholarship
Dr. Brigid E. Vance (Colorado State University Pueblo)
Exorcising Dreams and Envisioning Health in Late Ming China

Dialogue V. The Mathematical
Dr. Arielle Saiber (Bowdoin College)
The Diamond-Winged House Fly: L. B. Alberti’s Equivocal Tribute to Mathematics
Dr. Leah Zuo (Bowdoin College)
Keeping Your Ear to the Cosmos: Standards of Validity in the Northern Song (960−1127) Music Reforms