Past Event

Columbia Material Texts Seminar: Pier Mattia Tommasino

March 11, 2019
5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Faculty House

Columbia University Seminar in Material Texts: Prof. Pier Mattia Tommasino will be presenting at the seminar Monday, March 11th (rescheduled from Feb. 12th). Details and instructions on how to RSVP are listed below.

DATE AND TIME: Monday, March 11th, 5:30-7:00 PM

LOCATION: Columbia Faculty House (64 Morningside Drive, New York, NY 10027), room TBA (consult the signs at the entrance)

TITLE: "Scorpions and Calligraphers: the Genesis of Francesco Redi’s Experiments on the Generation of the Insects (1668)”

SPEAKER: Pier Mattia Tommasino (Columbia University)

ABSTRACT: This paper is a microanalysis of the genesis and printing process of Francesco Redi’s Experiments on the Generation of the Insects, published in Florence in 1668. Redi’s work is the first scientific treatise that, based on experiment and observation, disproved the theory of spontaneous generation. Through a close reading of the correspondence that Redi exchanged with his collaborators, along with the analysis of the book, particularly the paratext and folio K4, the paper shows the importance that Oriental studies played in the reading of the Book of Nature as well as in the construction of the new rhetoric of courtly science. I argue that Redi used both the images of the insects and the quotations in Arabic to challenge Athanasius Kircher’s theory on spontaneous generation (Mundus subterraneus, 1665) as well as Kircher’s use and misuse of Oriental erudition.




If you would like to attend the seminar, please email the seminar rapporteur, Sierra Eckert ( for a copy of the paper.  

We will be having dinner afterwards at Pisticci at 7:20pm. Dinner attendees will be responsible for the costs of their own meal.  If you would like to attend, please make sure to RSVP at least one week in advance to the seminar rapporteur ( It is necessary to RSVP even if you are attending the talk only, since rooms are assigned based on the expected number of attendees.