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At the next Vossius Seminar Emma Mojet (UvA) and Kim Simonsen (University of Bergen, Vossius Fellow) will present their research. Emma Mojet: "The Flow of Adolphe Quetelet: Statistical Observations and Methods in Botany" and Kim Simonsen: "Visual and Material Aspects of Travel Writing, seen through Northbound Travelling European Men of Science and Men of Letters 1770-1850".

Detail Summary
Date 15 April 2019
Time 15:00 - 17:15
Location BG 1


15:00-16:00 Emma Mojet (University of Amsterdam)

16:15-17:15 Kim Simonsen (University of Bergen, Vossius Fellow)

Emma Mojet

The Flow of Adolphe Quetelet: Statistical Observations and Methods in Botany

One of the main topic of my research deals with historical epistemic transfer of theories, methods, concepts, instruments, and the like between disciplines: such transfer can be framed as the ‘flow’ of ‘cognitive goods’. As a first case study, I have looked at the research method of the questionnaire, how it was developed in multiple disciplines, and how the method found its way into the discipline formation process of General Linguistics around the turn of the twentieth century. For a second case study my research turns to statistical methods and how these were adopted by a large amount of disciplines. Reviewing various disciplinary journals shows that a range of disciplines such as botany, economics, astronomy, nutrition studies, sociology, epidemiology, meteorology, and criminology not only refer to similar statistical methods and techniques, but also all point towards the same scholar as influential to their methodology: the Belgian astronomer and statistician Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet (1796-1874). This intrigues me: what does this similarity mean for these disciplines, these methods, and especially for Quetelet, within the context of nineteenth-century statistics? How were Quetelet and his work adopted by these varying disciplines? In this talk I have chosen to look at Quetelet’s influence on botany and I will examine how Quetelet’s methods and phenological observations at the Royal Observatory of Brussels were received. Through this case study I want to show an episode of the flow of cognitive goods.

Kim Simonsen

Visual and Material Aspects of Travel Writing, seen through Northbound Travelling European Men of Science and Men of Letters 1770-1850

I seek to gain a new understanding of the intersection between the history of humanities and the history of science in relation to how printed texts and visual material, e.g. scientific illustrations brought forward by polymath travel writers, became part of a nation building process for nations in the North. As a departure in this field, I combine elements from both cultural-, art- and literary historical approaches with nation building theory, digital and environmental humanities and the history of natural history.

I investigate the cultivation of nature as part of nation building processes in Nordic societies seen through the reciprocal effect travels had on the construction of national self-images in the North. Questions the historical interpreted relationship between man and nature as seen in both written sources, images of botany, fauna, and landscapes.

I favour aspects of materialist ontologies focusing on both images and texts, but also on objects, therefore I seek to investigate images, objects and texts from unexplored sources, e.g. botanical and geological expeditions to the North and Far North.


BG1, room 0.16

BG 1
BG 1

Turfdraagsterpad 9
1012 XT Amsterdam