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Abstract: Keynote Lecture

Bruce Moran, University of Nevada, Reno.
Sky Islands, Cultural Practices, and the Reputation of Alchemy in Early Modern Europe



Employing two specific case studies, the paper focuses upon what I call the singularity of alchemical experience, i.e. culturally ordinary alchemical practices situated in local or domestic contexts. The reputation of alchemy, I argue, extended across the social spectrum in the age of new learning, influencing cultural practices and prompting synthetic experiences that affected the construction of natural knowledge. Artisanal and other sorts of alchemical experience joined a broader community in which personal agendas, secrets, attention to objects, and curiosity about the "how" of nature served as important elements in making science and transfering natural knowledge.