Skip to main content

Past Harriot Seminars

The regular Thomas Harriot Seminar is the headline event for this group and alternates between Birkbeck and the University of Durham.

Thirteen seminars were held in Oxford at Trinity College between 1967 and 1983. Unfortunately no records are available for these meetings.

Birkbeck 2018

Durham 2017

Birkbeck 2016

  • Angela Axworthy (Max Planck Institute Berlin): 'Conceptions of motion in geometrical definitions according to sixteenth-century commentators of Euclid.'
  • Eleanor Chan (St Catharine's College, Cambridge): 'The Kinesic Imagination in Early Modern Northern European Mathematics.'
  • Misha Ewen (University College London): 'Concern for the Fabric of Commonwealth: Tudor Concepts and Transportation to Virginia, c. 1606-1621.'
  • Lauren Working (University of Durham): 'Thomas Harriot's Virginia: Envisaging the Algonquian in the Jacobean Metropolis.'
  • James Christie (Warburg Institute): 'From Astrology to Aliens: A Shift in Early Modern Cosmology.'
  • Stephen Pumfrey (Lancaster University): 'How might a soul of the Earth act?'

Durham 2015

  • Richard Oosterhoff (CRASSH, University of Cambridge): 'Gabriel Harvey and the utility of mathematics'
  • Robert Goulding (Notre Dame University): 'Through a glass, darkly: shadows, light, and prismatic colours.'
  • Glyn Parry (Roehampton University): 'The Ordeal of Thomas Digges'
  • Cathy France (University of Leeds): 'Thomas Digges and the ballistic trajectory'
  • Stephen Johnston (Museum of the History of Science, Oxford): 'Edward Wright at Sea – Detected and Corrected.'
  • David Harris Sacks (Reed College, Oregon): 'Learning to Know: Richard Hakluyt and Thomas Harriot in Oxford.'
  • Todd Andrew Borlik (University of Hudderfield): 'John Dee’s ‘Hydragogie’ and Fen Drainage in the Seventeenth Century'
  • Susan Maxwell (Independent scholar): 'Preparing for circumnavigation: Thomas Cavendish and Francis Drake'

Birkbeck 2014

  • Held on 11 July 2014.
  • Matthias Schemmel (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin): ‘Geometry in Flux: Thomas Harriot's Geometry of Motion’
  • Stephen Pumfrey (University of Lancaster): ‘Annihilating the sublunary world: the background to William Gilbert’s revolutionary cosmos’.
  • Glyn Parry (University of Roehampton): ‘Thomas Digges, Persecutor’.
  • Haileigh Robertson (University of York): ‘Gunpowder Experiments in Early Modern Natural Philosophy.’
  • Fabrizio Bigotti (Warburg Institute): ‘Distillation and medicine in Italy at the age of Antonio de' Medici (1576-1621).’
  • James Everest (UCL): "That no due investigation has been made [.] may be considered an astonishing piece of negligence": Francis Bacon and the 'Form' of Light
  • Gavin Selerie: 'Harriot in Re-performance: a Poet's View.'

Durham 2012

  • Held at Durham Castle, 15-17 December.
  • Makiko Okamura (Kyoto Prefectural University of Japan): The Shadow of Night Illuminated: Knowledge in The Shadow of Night by George Chapman, a contemporary of Thomas Harriot
  • Matteo Valleriani (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin): The Early Modern Engineer's Nature
  • Philip Sanders (University of Reading): 'Polyhedral Mysteries in the Renaissance'
  • Adam Mosley (University of Swansea): 'Renaissance Cosmography'
  • Jim Bennett (Museum of History of Science University of Oxford): 'Craft in sixteenth-century Astronomy and Cosmography'
  • Alexander Marr (University of Cambridge): 'Ingenuity in the Gallery'
  • Robert Goulding (University of Notre Dame): 'The Place of Optics in Harriot's Scientific Researches'

Durham 2010

  • Held at Hatfield College, 16-18 December.
  • Harvey Sheldon (Birkbeck, University of London): 'Archaeological work at Syon House'
  • Patrizia Grimaldi (University of Siena): 'The Magnetic Gesta Grayorum 1594-5'
  • Mark Nicholls (St John's College, Cambridge): 'The challenges of writing the biography of Sir Walter Raleigh'
  • Francesca Renzi (Florence): Presentation on her MA thesis on Thomas Harriot
  • Stephen Pumfrey (University of Lancaster): 'Lunar observation in the history of planetary astronomy'
  • Gordon Batho (University of Durham, Emeritus): 'George Percy: brother of the ninth Earl of Northumberland'
  • Mark Nicholls (St John's College, Cambridge): 'George Percy's "Trewe Relacyon" of the Jamestown Settlement'

Durham 2008

  • Held at St John's College, 18-20 December.
  • Jennifer Rampling (HPS, University of Cambridge): 'George Ripley and the Alchemy of Elizabethan England'
  • Stephen Johnston (Museum of the History of Science, Oxford): 'Thomas Digges and magnetism'.
  • Stephen Clucas (Birkbeck, University of London): 'Atomism, mechanism and chymistry in the natural philosophy of Walter Warner.'
  • Professor Sir Arnold Wolfendale (Durham): 'A near contemporary of Harriot: Galileo Galilei.'
  • Jackie Stedall (University of Oxford): 'Thomas Harriot’s Magisteria magna.'
  • Cesare Pastorino (Indiana University): 'Francis Bacon and the mining entrepreneurs of the early Stuart period.'
  • Muriel Seltman (London): 'The significance of the Artis analyticae praxis (especially for non-mathematicians).'
  • Matthew Dimmock (University of Sussex): 'William Percy and Islam.'

Durham 2006

  • Held at St John's College, 18-20 December.
  • Ayesha Mukerjee (Trinity College, Cambridge): ‘Dearth science 1580-1608: the writings of Hugh Plat.’
  • Robert Goulding (University of Notre Dame): Optical powers: Harriot on the efficacy of burning glasses’.
  • Pascal Briost (CSER, Tours): ‘Thomas Harriot : Reader of Niccolò Tartaglia’
  • Stephen Clucas (Birkbeck, University of London): ‘ Thomas Harriot and Walter Warner on collisions: English mechanics in the early seventeenth century’
  • Stephen Pumfrey (Lancaster University): ‘Thomas Harriot and William Gilbert on the Vacuum’
  • Jean-Jacques Brioist (Independent Scholar): ‘Harriot and Conics’
  • Peter J. Forshaw (Birkbeck, University of London): ‘Ritual Magic in Elizabethan England’

Durham 2004

  • Held at St John's College, 16-18 December.
  • Gordon R. Batho (University of Durham): ‘The Library of the Ninth Earl’
  • Anna Beer(Faculty of Continuing Education, Oxford): ‘Thomas Harriot and Lady Raleigh’
  • Juliet Fleming (Trinity Hall, Cambridge): ‘Lucretianism in the Harriot Circle’
  • Harriet Knight (Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, London): ‘Promus of Formularies and Elegancies: Francis Bacon and Seventeenth-Century Notebook Culture’.
  • Chloe Houston (Birkbeck, University of London) ‘An Idea for a Principality? The Eastern effect in Bacon’s New Atlantis’.
  • Nicholas Popper (Princeton University): ‘Magic and Natural Philosophy in Walter Raleigh’s History of the World
  • Stephen Pumfrey (University of Lancaster): ‘Was Harriot the English Galileo? An answer from patronage Studies’

Durham 2002

  • Held at St John's College, 16-18 December.
  • David Wooton (Queen Mary and Westfield, University of London): ‘Reginald Scot and Tudor science’.
  • Matthias Schemmel (Max Planck Institut, Berlin): ‘Was Thomas Harriot an English Galileo? - Harriot’s Studies on Ballistics and the Fall of Bodies as an Example of Preclassical Mechanics’.
  • Rob Iliffe (Imperial College, London/Isaac Newton Project): ‘Lying Wonders and Juggling Tricks: Nature and Imposture in Early Modern England’.
  • Alexander Marr (New College Oxford): ‘Pillars, pedagogy and Practice: the Mathematical Model of Sir Clement Edmondes’.
  • Patricia Brewerton (The Francis Bacon Project): ‘Timothy Bright’s Invention: the political and cultural significance of a new form of writing’.
  • Michael Booth (Brandeis University) ‘Thomas Harriot’s mathematics and Algonquin linguistics’.
  • B. J. Sokol (Goldsmiths, University of London): ‘Shakesperean Sources in Obscure Continental European Publications’.

Durham 2000

  • Held at St John's College, 18-20 December.
  • Paul M. Hunneyball (History of Parliament): ‘Sir William Lower and the Harriot Circle’
  • Penny Bayer (University of Warwick): ‘Lady Margaret Clifford’s Alchemical receipt Book and the John Dee Circle’
  • M. Kennedy (Virginia): ‘Harriot’s Report on the New Found land – a printing and reception history’.
  • Pascal Brioist (CESR, Tours): ‘Harriot’s Optics’
  • Jacqueline Stedall (Open University): ‘Harriot's Algebra in the Seventeenth Century’.
  • Bill Engel (Nashville): ‘Sir Walter Raleigh's Cunning Terminus’.
  • Timothy J. Raylor (Carleton College, Minnesota): ‘Hobbes, Warner and the Cavendish Circle’.
  • Michael Wilding (University of Sydney) ‘John Dee and Edward Kelley’.

Cambridge 1999

  • Held at Homerton College, 13-15 September.
  • Robert Baldwin (London): ‘Producing a Customised Atlas, 1587: A study of the practical links between Lord Burghley, Martin Frobisher, John Dee, Robert Norman, Thomas Harriot, John White, and the planning of a City procession for 1587’.
  • Deborah Harkness (University of California, Davis): ‘Science in Harriot’s London’.
  • Karen Reeds (National Coalition for Independent Scholars, New Providence, NJ): ‘Herbals in Harriot’s Time’
  • Jim Reeds (AT&T Labs, Florham Park, NJ):‘Harriot’s Number and Letter Squares’
  • Eric Ash (Princeton University): ‘Navigation in Harriot’s Time’.
  • Eliane Glaser (Birkbeck, University of London): ‘Elizabethan Anti-Semitism and Protestantism’.
  • David Loades (Oxford): ‘Foxe’s Book of Martyrs - John Foxe and “Gentile Knowledge”’.
  • Stephen Clucas (Birkbeck, University of London): ‘Harriot’s Alchemy’.

Durham 1998

  • Held at St John's College, 14-16 December.
  • David Baldwin (The Chapel Royal, London): ‘The Chapel Royal and London Theatres in Harriot’s Time’.
  • Richard Ovendon (National Library of Scotland): ‘Lord William Howard (1563-1640) as a Collector and Antiquary’.
  • A. D. Walker-Wraight (Marlowe Society) ‘Shakespeare: New Evidence’.
  • Moray McConnachie (St Hugh’s College, Oxford): ‘Harriot, Raleigh and the process of Time’.
  • Steven Walton (University of Toronto): ‘Thomas Harriot’s Ballistics and English Renaissance Warfare’.
  • Penelope Gouk (UMIST): ‘Musical Models in Natural Philosophy in the Time of Harriot’.

Cambridge 1997

  • Held at Homerton College, 15-17 September.
  • Jenny Wilson (London): ‘ Raleigh’s History of the World: its purpose and political significance’.
  • A. E. L. Davis (Imperial College, London): ‘Kepler the ultimate Aristotelian’.
  • Gerard L'E Turner (Oxford): ‘Queen Elizabeth’s Instrument Makers’.
  • E. Thomson Shields (Roanoke Colonies Research Office/East Carolina University): ‘Conquistadors and Englishmen: Tragedy and Apology in Spanish and English Exploration Narratives of North America’.
  • Peter Nockolds (Independent Scholar) ‘Echoes of Roanoke in Shakespeare’.
  • Ivor Grattan-Guiness (Middlesex): The Harriot-Descartes Rule of Signs: background and influence.’
  • A. D. Burnett (University of Durham): ‘Bacon’s Instauratio Magna: the engraved title page, an icon amd paradigm of science and its wider implications’.
  • B. J. Sokol (Goldsmiths, University of London): ‘Cornelius Drebbel, Jamestown and The Tempest’.
  • Alan Stewart (Birkbeck, University of London): ‘The Collaborations of Francis Bacon’.

Durham 1996

  • Held at St John's College, 16-18 December.
  • Nina Taunton (Brunel University, London): ‘Watching the Watch: Surveillance of the camp in Sixteenth-Century Discourses of War’.
  • Anita McConnell (Buckingham): ‘The Moon through Glasse: Practical Optics in Harriot’s Day’.
  • Rosalind Davies (London): ‘The Politics of Reconnaissance: The Raleigh-Sanderson Lawsuit (1611-1613) and the Guiana Voyage’.
  • Joan Kenworthy (Durham): ‘Richard Madox and Meterology in Harriot's day: a study of Elizabethan Observation and Experience in Tropical Latitudes’.
  • Gareth Roberts (University of Exeter): ‘The Language of Alchemy’.
  • Stephen Clucas (Birkbeck, University of London): ‘Newly Discovered Walter Warner Papers’.

Durham 1995

  • Held at St John's College, 18-20 December.
  • Robert Goulding (Warburg Institute): ‘Dee, Digges and Saville’.
  • V. Bialas (Munich): ‘Kepler’s notebook on the Astronomia Nova’.
  • Urszula Szulakowska (Bretton Hall, Leeds): ‘John Dee and European Alchemy’.
  • Alistair Crombie (Oxford): ‘Galileo and the Visual and Musical Arts’ (presented on Professor Crombie’s behalf by Stephen Clucas)
  • Sue Maxwell (Durham): ‘The first Virginia voyages: the Cavendish connection’.
  • Cliff Forshaw (Wolfson College, Oxford): ‘Satyrs and Wild Men: representations in art And literature in Harriot’s time’.

Cambridge 1994

  • Held at Homerton College, 12-14 September.
  • Elizabeth Robertson (St Catherine’s College, Oxford): ‘Angels in Harriot’s Time’.
  • B. J. Sokol (Goldsmiths, University of London): ‘The problem of assessing Thomas Harriot’s A Briefe and True Report’.
  • Gordon R. Batho (University of Durham) Anna Beer (Oxford) and Stephen Clucas (Birkbeck, University of London): ‘The writings in prison of Sir Walter Raleigh and the ninth Earl of Northumberland’.
  • Paul Harvey(Osaka University): ‘Englishmen describing the Non-European at the time of Harriot’.
  • Paul Hunneyball(Wolfson College, Oxford): ‘The architecture of country houses in Harriot’s time’.
  • John Fauvel(The Open University): ‘Mathematical Language in Harriot’s time’.

Durham 1993

  • Held at St Chad's College, 13-15 December.
  • Melanie Hansen (Trinity College, Dublin): ‘Writing the land: Renaissance English Antiquarianism’
  • Helen Wallis (London): ‘Roanoke Decoded’.
  • Richard S. Dunn (University of Cambridge): ‘Astrology in Harriot's Time’.
  • Jan Prins (University of Utrecht): ‘Warner’s Ideas about Time and Space’.
  • J. V. Pepper (London): ‘Harriot’s Algebra’.
  • Gillian Mirrlees (Oxford): ‘Sassafras: A Cure-All of Harriot's Time’.

Cambridge 1992

  • Held at Homerton College, 14-16 September.
  • Lisa Jardine (Queen Mary and Westfield, University of London): ‘Gabriel Harvey, Scholar-Reader: Knowledge Transactions and Private Servides in England in the 1590s’.
  • Lyndy Abraham (University of Sydney): ‘Alchemy and Literature in Harriot's Time’.
  • Nina Taunton (London): ‘Marlowe, Harriot and the Art of War’.
  • Vivian Salmon (Oxford): ‘Thomas Harriot and the English Origins of Algonkian Linguistics’.
  • James W. Binns (University of York): ‘Latin Culture in Harriot's Time’.

Durham 1991

  • Held at St Chad's College, 16-18 December.
  • Robert Baldwin (National Maritime Museum): ‘Harriot, White and the Birth of English Overseas Hydrography’.
  • Julian Roberts (Bodleian Library, Oxford): ‘John Dee's Library’.
  • Sarah Hutton (Hatfield Polytechnic): ‘Thomas Jackson (1579-1644): a younger contemporary of Harriot ’.
  • Stephen Clucas (Birkbeck, University of London): ‘Walter Warner: Logic, Mathematics and Encyclopaedism’.
  • Arnold Wolfendale (Astronomer Royal): ‘Some Durham Astronomers’.
  • Richard F. Wilson (University of Lancaster): ‘Representations of the Body in Harriot’s Time’.

Cambridge 1990

  • Held at Homerton College, 18-20 September.
  • E. J. Aiton: ‘Astronomy in the time of Thomas Harriot’
  • J. A. Bennett (Whipple Museum, Cambridge): ‘Mathematical Instruments in Harriot’s Time’.
  • J. V. Pepper: ‘Naval Architecture in Harriot’s Time’
  • Willem Hackmann (Museum of the History of Science, Oxford): ‘Navigation in Harriot’s Time’
  • Peter J. Wallis and Ruth Wallis: ‘Early British Philomaths’.
  • David M. Knight (University of Durham): ‘A visual language for science: seventeenth-century illustration’.
  • Muriel Seltman (London): ‘The algebra of Harriot’s time: forging a tool for science’.
    [NB. This was a joint meeting held with the British Society for the History of Mathematics]

Durham 1989

  • Held at St Chad's College, 18-19 December.
  • D. T. Whiteside (University of Cambridge): ‘Thomas Harriot: his standing as a scientist’.
  • G. J. Whitrow (London): ‘The role of Time in life and thought in the age of Thomas Harriot and our own’.
  • Stephen Clucas (University of Sheffield): ‘The atomistic philosophy of Thomas Harriot and Walter Warner’.
  • G. Sabbagh (Paris): ‘Descartes and Harriot: about a neglected letter’.
  • Florentine Audette (Regina): ‘Raleigh, Harriot and Marlowe’.

Cambridge 1988

  • Held at Homerton College, 20-21 September.
  • Pio Rattansi (University College, London): ‘Alchemy in Harriot’s time’.
  • Penelope Gouk (St Hilda’s, University of Oxford): ‘Introduction to The Ivory Sundials of Nuremberg 1500-1700 at the Whipple Museum’.
  • Willem Hackmann (Museum of the History of Science, Oxford): ‘Magnetism and Experimentation in Harriot’s time’.
  • Jim Bennett (Whipple Museum, Cambridge): ‘Maps and Early Modern Mathematics’.
  • P. Barber (British Library): ‘Symbols of Power and Policy in Europe, 1550-1625’.

December 1987

  • Catherine Ferguson: 'The Borders in Thomas Harriot’s Time'
  • Dudley Wilson: 'The Motivations and Implications of a Treatise on Midwifery, 1612'
  • Michael Sharratt: 'Galileo’s Theology'
  • Wilma George: 'Deere in Some Places There are a Great Store'
  • Helen Wallis: 'Elizabethan Terrestrial and Celestial Globes'

December 1985

  • John Henry: 'The Origins of the Mechanical Philosophy in England; Thomas Hobbes’s debt to Walter Warner'
  • G.L.E. Turner: 'Sir Robert Dudley and his Elizabethan Instrument Makers'
  • P.F. Fitzpatrick: 'Some Seventeenth-Century Theories of Transubstantiation'
  • D.H. Fowler: 'Greek Arithmetic with Fractions'
  • John J. Roche: 'Thomas Harriot’s Observations on Halley’s Comet in 1607'

December 1983

  • Allan Chapman: 'Three North Country Astronomers'
  • C. W. Brooks: 'Law Politics and the Ancient Constitution in Sixteenth-Century England'
  • Hilary Gatti: 'Giordano Bruno and the Northumberland Circle'
  • J.R. Kenyon: 'Guns and Garrison Fortification under the Tudors'

December 1981

  • M. Earles: 'The Pharmacopoeia Londinensis now Perfected'
  • Jon V. Pepper: 'Harriot as a Nautical Scientist: A Paradigm of an Applied Mathematician'
  • Julian Roberts: 'The Scientific University of England: John Dee’s Library from 1544 to 1626'
  • P. D. A. Harvey: 'Large Scale Maps of Harriot’s Time: The Historical Background'

December 1979

  • Gordon R. Batho: 'Thomas Harriot and life in the Northumberland Household'
  • A. G. Molland: 'Light and Matter in Harriot's Time'
  • David M Knight: 'Printing as an Agent of Change in Science'
  • W. A Wallace: 'John White, Harriot and Ralegh in Ireland'