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Galileo, Courtier
The Practice of Science in the Culture of Absolutism
Mario Biagioli
University of Chicago Press, 1993
Informed by currents in sociology, cultural anthropology, and literary theory, Galileo, Courtier is neither a biography nor a conventional history of science. In the court of the Medicis and the Vatican, Galileo fashioned both his career and his science to the demands of patronage and its complex systems of wealth, power, and prestige. Biagioli argues that Galileo's courtly role was integral to his science—the questions he chose to examine, his methods, even his conclusions.

Galileo, Courtier is a fascinating cultural and social history of science highlighting the workings of power, patronage, and credibility in the development of science.

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Galileo, Science and the Church
Jerome J. Langford
University of Michigan Press, 1992
A penetrating account of the confrontation between Galileo and the Church of Rome

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Galileo's Idol
Gianfrancesco Sagredo and the Politics of Knowledge
Nick Wilding
University of Chicago Press, 2014
Galileo’s Idol offers a vivid depiction of Galileo’s friend, student, and patron, Gianfrancesco Sagredo (1571–1620). Sagredo’s life, which has never before been studied in depth, brings to light the inextricable relationship between the production, distribution, and reception of political information and scientific knowledge.
Nick Wilding uses as wide a variety of sources as possible—paintings, ornamental woodcuts, epistolary hoaxes, intercepted letters, murder case files, and others—to challenge the picture of early modern science as pious, serious, and ecumenical. Through his analysis of the figure of Sagredo, Wilding offers a fresh perspective on Galileo as well as new questions and techniques for the study of science. The result is a book that turns our attention from actors as individuals to shifting collective subjects, often operating under false identities; from a world made of sturdy print to one of frail instruments and mistranscribed manuscripts; from a complacent Europe to an emerging system of complex geopolitics and globalizing information systems; and from an epistemology based on the stolid problem of eternal truths to one generated through and in the service of playful, politically engaged, and cunning schemes.

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Galileo's Instruments of Credit
Telescopes, Images, Secrecy
Mario Biagioli
University of Chicago Press, 2006
In six short years, Galileo Galilei went from being a somewhat obscure mathematics professor running a student boarding house in Padua to a star in the court of Florence to the recipient of dangerous attention from the Inquisition for his support of Copernicanism. In that brief period, Galileo made a series of astronomical discoveries that reshaped the debate over the physical nature of the heavens: he deeply modified the practices and status of astronomy with the introduction of the telescope and pictorial evidence, proposed a radical reconfiguration of the relationship between theology and astronomy, and transformed himself from university mathematician into court philosopher.

Galileo's Instruments of Credit proposes radical new interpretations of several key episodes of Galileo's career, including his early telescopic discoveries of 1610, the dispute over sunspots, and the conflict with the Holy Office over the relationship between Copernicanism and Scripture. Galileo's tactics during this time shifted as rapidly as his circumstances, argues Mario Biagioli, and the pace of these changes forced him to respond swiftly to the opportunities and risks posed by unforeseen inventions, further discoveries, and the interventions of his opponents.

Focusing on the aspects of Galileo's scientific life that extend beyond the framework of court culture and patronage, Biagioli offers a revisionist account of the different systems of exchanges, communication, and credibility at work in various phases of Galileo's career. Galileo's Instruments of Credit will find grateful readers among scholars of science studies, historical epistemology, visual studies, Galilean science, and late Renaissance astronomy.

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Galileo's Muse
Renaissance Mathematics and the Arts
Mark Austin Peterson
Harvard University Press, 2011

Mark Peterson makes an extraordinary claim in this fascinating book focused around the life and thought of Galileo: it was the mathematics of Renaissance arts, not Renaissance sciences, that became modern science. Galileo's Muse argues that painters, poets, musicians, and architects brought about a scientific revolution that eluded the philosopher-scientists of the day, steeped as they were in a medieval cosmos and its underlying philosophy.

According to Peterson, the recovery of classical science owes much to the Renaissance artists who first turned to Greek sources for inspiration and instruction. Chapters devoted to their insights into mathematics, ranging from perspective in painting to tuning in music, are interspersed with chapters about Galileo's own life and work. Himself an artist turned scientist and an avid student of Hellenistic culture, Galileo pulled together the many threads of his artistic and classical education in designing unprecedented experiments to unlock the secrets of nature.

In the last chapter, Peterson draws our attention to the Oratio de Mathematicae laudibus of 1627, delivered by one of Galileo's students. This document, Peterson argues, was penned in part by Galileo himself, as an expression of his understanding of the universality of mathematics in art and nature. It is "entirely Galilean in so many details that even if it is derivative, it must represent his thought," Peterson writes. An intellectual adventure, Galileo’s Muse offers surprising ideas that will capture the imagination of anyone—scientist, mathematician, history buff, lover of literature, or artist—who cares about the humanistic roots of modern science.


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Galileo’s Telescope
A European Story
Massimo Bucciantini, Michele Camerota, and Franco Giudice
Harvard University Press, 2015

Between 1608 and 1610 the canopy of the night sky changed forever, ripped open by an object created almost by accident: a cylinder with lenses at both ends. Galileo’s Telescope tells the story of how an ingenious optical device evolved from a toy-like curiosity into a precision scientific instrument, all in a few years. In transcending the limits of human vision, the telescope transformed humanity’s view of itself and knowledge of the cosmos.

Galileo plays a leading—but by no means solo—part in this riveting tale. He shares the stage with mathematicians, astronomers, and theologians from Paolo Sarpi to Johannes Kepler and Cardinal Bellarmine, sovereigns such as Rudolph II and James I, as well as craftsmen, courtiers, poets, and painters. Starting in the Netherlands, where a spectacle-maker created a spyglass with the modest magnifying power of three, the telescope spread like technological wildfire to Venice, Rome, Prague, Paris, London, and ultimately India and China. Galileo’s celestial discoveries—hundreds of stars previously invisible to the naked eye, lunar mountains, and moons orbiting Jupiter—were announced to the world in his revolutionary treatise Sidereus Nuncius.

Combining science, politics, religion, and the arts, Galileo’s Telescope rewrites the early history of a world-shattering innovation whose visual power ultimately came to embody meanings far beyond the science of the stars.


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New Science, New World
Denise Albanese
Duke University Press, 1996
In New Science, New World Denise Albanese examines the discursive interconnections between two practices that emerged in the seventeenth century—modern science and colonialism. Drawing on the discourse analysis of Foucault, the ideology-critique of Marxist cultural studies, and de Certeau’s assertion that the modern world produces itself through alterity, she argues that the beginnings of colonialism are intertwined in complex fashion with the ways in which the literary became the exotic “other” and undervalued opposite of the scientific.
Albanese reads the inaugurators of the scientific revolution against the canonical authors of early modern literature, discussing Galileo’s Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems and Bacon’s New Atlantis as well as Milton’s Paradise Lost and Shakespeare’s The Tempest. She examines how the newness or “novelty” of investigating nature is expressed through representations of the New World, including the native, the feminine, the body, and the heavens. “New” is therefore shown to be a double sign, referring both to the excitement associated with a knowledge oriented away from past practices, and to the oppression and domination typical of the colonialist enterprise. Exploring the connections between the New World and the New Science, and the simultaneously emerging patterns of thought and forms of writing characteristic of modernity, Albanese insists that science is at its inception a form of power-knowledge, and that the modern and postmodern division of “Two Cultures,” the literary and the scientific, has its antecedents in the early modern world.
New Science, New World makes an important contribution to feminist, new historicist, and cultural materialist debates about the extent to which the culture of seventeenth-century England is proto-modern. It will offer scholars and students from a wide range of fields a new critical model for historical practice.

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Novelties in the Heavens
Rhetoric and Science in the Copernican Controversy
Jean Dietz Moss
University of Chicago Press, 1993
In this fascinating work, Jean Dietz Moss shows how the scientific revolution begun by Copernicus brought about another revolution as well—one in which rhetoric, previously used simply to explain scientific thought, became a tool for persuading a skeptical public of the superiority of the Copernican system.

Moss describes the nature of dialectical and rhetorical discourse in the period of the Copernican debate to shed new light on the argumentative strategies used by the participants. Against the background of Ptolemy's Almagest, she analyzes the gradual increase of rhetoric beginning with Copernicus's De Revolutionibus and Galileo's Siderius nuncius, through Galileo's debates with the Jesuits Scheiner and Grassi, to the most persuasive work of all, Galileo's Dialogue. The arguments of the Dominicans Bruno and Campanella, the testimony of Johannes Kepler, and the pleas of Scriptural exegetes and the speculations of John Wilkins furnish a counterpoint to the writings of Galileo, the centerpiece of this study.

The author places the controversy within its historical frame, creating a coherent narrative movement. She illuminates the reactions of key ecclesiastical and academic figures figures and the general public to the issues.

Blending history and rhetorical analysis, this first study to look at rhetoric as defined by sixteenth- and seventeenth-century participants is an original contribution to our understanding of the use of persuasion as an instrument of scientific debate.

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Sidereus Nuncius, or The Sidereal Messenger
Galileo Galilei
University of Chicago Press, 1989
"This fine translation is a god-send. . . . Surely you want to read what Galileo wrote. If so buy this book. Van Helden's introduction is scholarly; no one knows more about Galileo's telescope; the translation is superb; Van Helden's review of the reception of the Sidereal Messenger is profound; the bibliography is extensive. What more can I say?"—David W. Hughes, The Observatory

"[Sidereus nunclus] has never before been made available in its entirety in a continuous form, with full notes and comment. The introduction, translation and notes by Van Helden are a splendid example of the best scholarship and fullest accessibility. . . . we can now truly get to grips with the phenomenon of Galileo and what his life and work should mean to us today."—Robert Temple, Nature

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The Starry Messenger
George Keithley
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003
"Keithley’s talent is remarkable; he seems to possess Whitman’s visionary imagination, that rare ability to evoke powerful, scaled-down, lyric details in the service of a vast structure."
--American Poetry Review

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Telescopes, Tides, and Tactics
A Galilean Dialogue about The Starry Messenger and Systems of the World
Stillman Drake
University of Chicago Press, 1983
Publication of Galileo's Starry Messenger in 1610, detailing startling observations with the newly invented telescope, sparked immediate furor among the astronomers and philosophers of the day. The discovery of the "Medicean stars" (the satellites of Jupiter) was pronounced a hoax, an optical illusion, a logical and theological impossibility. Stillman Drake, one of the world's foremost Galileo scholars, recreates in Telescopes, Tides, and Tactics the fascinating aftermath of the publication of the Starry Messenger. Drawing on Galileo's scientific working papers and the letters and notebooks of his colleagues, Drake presents an imaginative Galilean dialogue using the text of the Starry Messenger as a departure point for discussions of appropriate scientific method, new discoveries, and the emergence of a new world view at this early stage of the Scientific Revolution.

Drake has revised his earlier abridged translation of the Starry Messenger, and for the first time the entire work is presented here in modern English. No other edition or translation of this famous work has analyzed Galileo's recorded observations in detail, compared them with modern calculations, or explained the later use he made of them. In the accompanying fictional dialogue, Salviati, Sagredo, and Sarpi reread the Starry Messenger in 1613 and discuss events and issues raised in the three years since its publication. Much of the dialogue is based on archival materials not previously cited in English. Drake has unearthed a wealth of information that will interest the lay reader as well as the historian and the scientist—descriptions of the various and occasionally bizarre critics of Galileo, a reconstruction of Galileo's promised book on the system of the world, his tables of observations and calculations of satellite motions, and evidence for an early tide theory. It was this theory explaining tides by motions of the earth, rather than the influence of Platonic metaphysics, Drake argues that played a major role in Galileo's acceptance of Copernican astronomy.

Telescopes, Tides, and Tactics is a thorough portrait of Galileo as a working astronomer. Offering much more than a commentary on the Starry Messenger, Drake has written a novel and absorbing contribution to the history of physics and astronomy and the study of the Scientific Revolution.

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To Save the Phenomena
An Essay on the Idea of Physical Theory from Plato to Galileo
Pierre Duhem
University of Chicago Press, 1969

Duhem's 1908 essay questions the relation between physical theory and metaphysics and, more specifically, between astronomy and physics–an issue still of importance today. He critiques the answers given by Greek thought, Arabic science, medieval Christian scholasticism, and, finally, the astronomers of the Renaissance.


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