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Home > Seminars > History of Science, History of Text

Axis Interdisciplinary Research in History and Philosophy of Science

History of Science, History of Text

The seminar examines the various types of documents produced in the context of scholarly practices in order to understand how the shaping of textual forms and inscriptions is part of the scientific activity. The seminar also aims to understand how these works make it possible to better interpret the sources on which historians of science draw to conduct their research. We will focus this year on the following topics:
  • how are layouts instruments that scientists put into play in their work and do they need to be interpreted as such?
  • How to read diagrams?
  • how do the writings and inscriptions produced in one environment circulate and how are they taken up in other milieux?
  • How can we document the genesis of texts, calculations, textual forms, and what does it tell us about the modes of writing practiced in various contexts?
  • How do the sources document what they do not talk about?
  • What does the organization of the writings of the actors tell us about their scholarly activities?

Organizers: Karine Chemla (SPHere, CNRS-University of Paris & Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University) & the HSHT Group.

PROGRAM 2022-2023

The sessions will take place on Thursdays as usual, 9:30am–5:30pm, Room Rothko, 412B,
Université Paris Cité, Building Condorcet, 4, rue Elsa Morante, 75013 Paris (map, access) or hybrid (Zoom), depending on the sanitary situation.

Provisional schedule 22/10/27 11/10 12/8 23/01/12 02/9 3/9 4/13 5/11 6/8

The program will be communicated in September-October 2022 and will replace that of 2021-22 on this page.

PROGRAM 2021-20222

Sessions take place on Thursdays, 9:30am–5:30pm, Room Mondrian, 646A
Université Paris Cité, Building Condorcet, 4, rue Elsa Morante, 75013 Paris (map, access)

14/10/2021, 10:15–16:30 : Columns, other textual dispositifs and operations
R. Middeke-Conlin Shifting sand: From prosaic to tabular format used to plan canal maintenance in ancient Iraq
K. Chemla
et A. Keller
Columns, Computations and Notations in Sanskrit and Chinese mathematical sources
A. Keel Steensen Working with inscriptions: making and breaking formal rules as computational practice

11/18/2021, 10:15–16:30 : Modularité, compilations
E. Gurevitch It’s Only a Paper World: Consultation Reading, Excerpting, and Indexing in Early-Modern South Asia
Eleonora Andreani Modularity in Astronomical Procedural Texts: the Case of the Tabule Magne by John of Lignères
Matthias Hayek Revoir ou transformer ? Ruptures et continuités dans les « éditions augmentées » de livres japonais de la seconde moitié du XVIe siècle

12/16/2021 Scientific drafts and genetic criticism Biasi Vingt ans plus tard, l’avenir d’un dialogue entre critique génétique et histoire des sciences
E. Haffner Critique génétique et mathématiques : expérimentations sur quelques textes de Dedekind
M.-C. Bustamante Une cartographie des notes de lecture de Jacques Solomon ou les possibilités d’une analyse génétique

01/13/2022 Notations, symbolism, online only
Massimo Maiocchi The invention of "text" in Mesopotamia as a historical problem
A. Remaki Le laboratoire de notations leibnizien : le cas des exposants
David Waszek Notations and notational differences in the philosophy of mathematical practice

02/10/2022 !! 11am - 4:30pm ! Diagramms
S. Trigg Diagrams for Visualizing Structure and Motion in Islamicate Astronomy
Antoine Pietrobelli L’utilisation des diagrammes dans la médecine de Galien
Postponed !! A. da Silva « Faire parler » les dessins sur le sable du Vanuatu. Approche ethnomathématique

03/17/2022 Change of support and editions
S. Plutniak Setting up new documentation infrastructures in the humanities: Jean-Claude Gardin’s punched card databases experiences (1950s-1970s)
E. Lejeune Circulation of computer programs and corpora between linguistic and medieval history in the 1970s (France, Belgium)
M. Thaller Publishing sources in the shadow of methodological disputes

04/14/2022 Technical Vocabulary
S. Serra Words and notions in some Parisian astronomical texts of the beginning of the 13th century
M. Lacomme, E. Lejeune, A. remaki Collective project of the Disc seminar: methodological impact of the polysemy of notions in history and philosophy of science

05/12/2022 Fluidity, Adaptations, Translations
Julie Lefebvre « Adapter » un texte scientifique ancien ? Questions à partir de l’examen de différentes adaptations des Éléments de géométrie d’Euclide
Pan Shuyan “System and Order”: The Textual Formulation in the Classic-formation of the Chinese Translation of the Elements in the Early 17th Century

06/02/2022 Lecture notes
M.-C. Bustamante Introduction
S. Confalonieri Sur les cours de Fourier à l’École Polytechnique
Wang X. Les cours sur le calcul différentiel de Joseph Fourier
Organisation for next year

October 14, 2021

:: Columns, other textual dispositifs and operations.

  • Robert Middeke-Conlin (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
    Shifting sand: From prosaic to tabular format used to plan canal maintenance in ancient Iraq
    This workshop will explore tabular layout of texts as an innovation to the planning and upkeep of irrigation projects during the Old Babylonian period (c. 2000-1600 BCE) in what is called the Kingdom of Larsa today (the extreme south of modern-day Iraq). Canals were vital to the economy of southern Iraq at this time. The region is dominated by two rivers: the Tigris and the Euphrates. These rivers were necessary for this region’s economic development, indeed for life itself to exist. Southern Iraq cannot sustain rain-fed agriculture. The rivers were vital to crop growth but were also prone to drought during planting and flooding during harvest. Canals and other waterworks were necessary to agriculture. Ancient Iraq also formed a vital trade entrepot between Iran, the Persian Gulf, and the eastern Mediterranean. The rivers, with their numerous canals, facilitated this trade. For these reasons, the ancient inhabitants of Iraq were constantly altering their environments.
    Administering this water environment required a skilled bureaucracy that constantly produced records. Innovation in record-keeping techniques afforded simpler and more transparent planning and oversight of canal production and maintenance. This presentation explores such innovation by examining the shift from prosaic format to tabular format in the kingdom of Larsa. Focus will first be on two texts that date to the reign of Sūmû-el (1894-1866 BCE), which take on a prosaic format to arrange and express data. These are texts NBC 5410 and NBC 5508. We will then look at two texts from the reign of Rīm-Sîn (1822-1763 BCE), YBC 11409 and NBC 6763, as well as one text from the reign of Hammurabi of Babylon, who conquered Larsa in 1763 BCE, YBC 12273. These three texts use a tabular format to arrange and express data. Additional texts will be mentioned to supplement the presentation as time allows.
    While mathematic content is important to these texts and must be mentioned, the presentation will emphasize shape, layout, and structures. Participants will gain an understanding of how the format of a text affects the data found on the text, how the format depended on the administrative environment in which it was produced, and how this format develops and changes as management changes.
  • Karine Chemla (SPHere, CNRS-University of Paris & Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University) and Agathe Keller (SPHere, CNRS–UP)
    Columns, Computations and Notations in Sanskrit and Chinese mathematical sources
    This talk is a follow-up on Agathe Keller’s talk last year on the topic (La colonne comme outil de calcul dans les commentaires mathématiques en Sanskrit : avec ou sans sens ?). We focus on columns of numbers that actors drew on erasable surfaces as well as in the pages of written documents. We will put Sanskrit and Chinese sources in dialogue, addressing in particular the following questions: which columns did actors draw on erasable surface and which ones on more permanent surfaces? How can historians restore the columns that were drawn only on erasable surfaces? How do texts relate to the columns? Which were the functions of these various kinds of columns, and what were the relationships of columns drawn on the two types of support? What was the status of these columns for actors (layout to operate on? notations?), and can we identify moment when a column shifts from one status to the other? Are changes observable with the transfer from one support to another?
  • Anna Keel Steensen (ETH, Zürich)
    Working with inscriptions: making and breaking formal rules as computational practice
    A mathematician doing a computation may be considered to do the computation formally if following certain rules for transforming expressions without taking into account any meaning that the rules and expressions may have. In this view, ‘formal’ expresses a special relationship between a rule and its meaning: a ‘formal’ computation operates according to a rule independently of its interpretation.

November 18

:: Modularity, compilation

  • Eric Gurevitch (University of Chicago)
    It’s Only a Paper World: Consultation Reading, Excerpting, and Indexing in Early-Modern South Asia
    In 1563, after decades of extensive research in Goa and Ahmadnagar, the Portuguese physician Garcia da Orta published his Colóquios dos simples e drogas da India. This text was quickly summarized and reorganized in a Latin version by Carolus Clusius and would serve as an impetus for a new global botany and pharmacology. This story is now well known, something of a “cult classic” among historians of science and medicine. But by focusing on Orta and his use of indigenous knowledge, we miss a lot. This paper uses Orta’s experiences in the Deccan to broach a set of questions unrelated to the development of modern sciences. How did information – about horticulture, agriculture, medicine, and forest management – circulate across languages and political formations in southern India prior to the arrival of someone like Orta? The paper investigates how large texts were disarticulated, and how portions of them were made portable and brought into new contexts in the early modern period. It traces early-modern practices of information management and consultation reading in southern India and argues that dominant narratives of indigenous knowledge need to take into account these sorts of paper practices.
  • Eleonora Andreani (SYRTE-Observatoire de Paris-PSL, CNRS post-doc ERC ALFA)
    Modularity in Astronomical Procedural Texts: the Case of the Tabule Magne by John of Lignères
    Between 1320 and 1325, the Parisian astronomer John of Lignères dedicates three works to Robert de Bardis, a Florentine 14th century theologian. In the dedication that introduces the work, John of Lignères clarifies that the work he means to offer to Robert de Bardis includes not only the Tabule magne, but also an Equatorium and a Saphea texts and aims at providing an autonomous and simple set of tools related to spherical and planetary astronomy. In this paper I will address the topic of the modularity of texts by focusing on the first of these three works. The Tabule Magne consists of a set of tables and its related texts explaining the use of those table it includes (canons). The tradition of the work comprises seven manuscripts handing out the canons and twenty manuscripts with different portions of tables. I will focus on the text of the canons and more precisely on different ways modularity plays an important role in the construction, circulation and mathematical/astronomical meaning of the text. Overall these analyses, treated by examining some relevant manuscript and textual evidence, allow to address the question of authorial and scribal agency in this particular tradition of mathematical astronomy.
  • Matthias Hayek (EPHE-PSL, CRCAO)
    Revoir ou transformer ? Ruptures et continuités dans les « éditions augmentées » de livres japonais de la seconde moitié du XVIe siècle
    À partir des années 1660, alors que le marché de de l’imprimerie commerciale commence à se stabiliser, les éditeurs japonais semblent avoir encouragé la production d’éditions « augmentées » d’ouvrages, notamment de manuels techniques ou de commentaires, publiés durant la première partie du siècle. Si ce phénomène relève en partie d’une stratégie de différentiation de la concurrence et de recyclage des contenus, il a néanmoins donné l’occasion aux auteurs/compilateurs d’opérer des changements profonds, jusque dans l’organisation même des ouvrages. On peut dès lors s’interroger sur les rapports qui unissent ces éditions augmentées aux livres originaux dont elles sont issues. À travers trois cas (un manuel de divination, un manuel sur la materia dietetica, et un lexique illustré), nous tenterons de réfléchir à la façon dont de nouveaux textes sont produits par ajouts, déplacements, et reconfiguration.

December 16

:: Scientific drafts and genetic criticism

  • Pierre-Marc de Biasi (ITEM, ÉNS-CNRS)
    Vingt ans plus tard, l’avenir d’un dialogue entre critique génétique et histoire des sciences
    Dans un article programmatique paru il y a presque vingt ans ("Sciences : des archives à la genèse. pour une contribution de la génétique des textes à l’histoire des sciences", Genesis 20, Jean-Michel Place éditeur, pp. 19-52, 2003) j’avais essayé de dresser les perspectives d’une collaboration envisageable entre ma discipline (la critique génétique, développée à l’ITEM-ENS-CNRS ) et le renouvellement possible des méthodes en usage chez les historiens des sciences, dans un contexte encore largement dominé par l’approche sociologique. Depuis cette époque, l’idée a fait son chemin, mais dans le même temps de nombreuses métamorphoses, notamment techniques, institutionnelles et environnementales, ont affecté la nature même des archives, leur statut, leur stockage, leur accessibilité, leur gestion, leur traitement et leur analyse, aussi bien pour les documents historiques que pour les traces de la recherche contemporaine in statu nascendi. De son côté, la critique génétique s’est profondément transformée en poursuivant ses recherches du côté de l’histoire des techniques (médiologie, transmission, papier, numérique, etc.), en élargissant ses recherches à des data de très vastes dimensions (grands corpus) et s’ouvrant à de nouveaux domaines, non littéraires ou même non textuels (arts plastiques, musique, cinéma, BD, architecture, etc.) où la logique de la production des images se substitue en partie à celle des processus écrits : des expériences qui l’ont conduite à problématiser ses outils et ses démarches en termes de "génétique des formes" et d’imagerie, en développant notamment quelques hypothèses sur l’œuvre en tant que processus, sur l’analyse algorithmique des phénomènes récurrents, et sur une modélisation variable des phases et des formes de la genèse. Que peut-on dire aujourd’hui des solidarités possibles entre histoire des sciences et approche génétique des archives de la création ? D’un point de vue génétique, comment mobiliser les innombrables traces de la recherche scientifique pour élucider et tenter peut-être modéliser les processus de découverte ? A l’âge du tout numérique, quelle forme pourrait prendre le dialogue le plus fructueux entre la critique génétique et l’histoire des sciences ?
  • Emmylou Haffner (IMO, Univ. Paris-Saclay),
    Critique génétique et mathématiques : expérimentations sur quelques textes de Dedekind
    Pour questionner l’utilisation de la critique génétique pour les manuscrits mathématiques, je proposerai une sélection d’exemples tirés des archives de Richard Dedekind. Ces exemples me serviront à soulever deux questions méthodologiques centrales pour une théorisation de la critique génétique pour les mathématiques : la possibilité d’une typologie des brouillons mathématiques, et les liens entre genèse conceptuelle et genèse textuelle.
    Dans le cadre d’une approche génétique, l’une des tâches centrales consiste à trier et ordonner les avant-textes pour reconstruire la chronologie de l’écriture et, à terme, rendre cette chronologie lisible à travers ces documents. Dans (de Biasi, 2011) et (Grésillon, 2016), trois phases sont distinguées pour classer les brouillons : la phase pré-rédactionnelle, la phase rédactionnelle, la phase post-rédactionnelle ou pré-éditoriale. Je questionnerai la pertinence de reprendre ces distinctions, et considérerai dans quelle mesure une typologie des différents brouillons peut aller de pair, en mathématiques, avec une hiérarchisation linéaire (voire continue) vers le produit final. Je proposerai de parler de phase "péri-rédactionnelle" et tenterai d’articuler la question d’une typologie des brouillons avec le fait que l’élaboration du produit fini ne se fait pas, en mathématiques, par la seule rédaction d’un texte qui pourra être donné à lire.
    Pour comprendre les étapes de fabrication d’un texte mathématique, il est indispensable de distinguer les différentes étapes du travail de recherche du mathématicien pour pouvoir articuler la genèse du texte final et la genèse de son contenu conceptuel. La genèse textuelle pour les mathématiques ne saurait donc se détacher d’une genèse conceptuelle, et doit en particulier tenir compte des documents "péri-rédactionnels". En effet, ne considérer que les textes rédigés comme étapes de la genèse mathématique risque de donner à l’écriture en vue de produire un texte un statut apparemment supérieur et qui pourrait gommer de nombreuses étapes, ou du moins les minimiserait en les reléguant à un état primitif du travail alors même qu’elles en constituent le cœur. Il s’agira alors de comprendre comment s’articulent la genèse textuelle et la genèse conceptuelle, mais également comment on peut présenter et interpréter la genèse en tant qu’elle produit des résultats et des concepts mathématiques. Un dernier point concernera les étapes de rédaction d’un texte ’lisible’ pour s’intéresser à la manière dont un tel texte mathématique est une construction strictement normée qui ne reflète pas toujours la genèse de son contenu.
  • Martha-Cecilia Bustamante (SPHERE, Université Paris Cité)
    Une cartographie des notes de lecture de Jacques Solomon ou les possibilités d’une analyse génétique
    Dans cet exposé nous présentons des notes de lecture de Solomon qui relèvent surtout des mathématiques. Nous allons montrer, d’une part, qu’elles sont la trace d’un dialogue avec une certaine littérature de son époque et, d’autre part, qu’elles ne sont pas homogènes. Nous parlerons donc de notes de type "lecture d’article" et "lecture de livre". Nous nous interrogerons sur les liens entre ces documents, privés, et des projets définis d’écriture, ou d’enseignement.

January 13, 2022 !! online only !!

:: Notations, symbolism

  • 10:15am - 11:45am: Massimo Maiocchi (ERC Marie-Curie, équipe HAROC, ArSCan)
    The invention of "text" in Mesopotamia as a historical problem
    The presentation offers an overview of the earliest cuneiform texts from Mesopotamia, dating from the late fourth millennium BCE. Together with Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions on tags and pottery, which are roughly contemporary, they form the oldest corpus for the study of writing in cultural evolution. Due to their archaic nature, these fascinating documents are by no means easy to understand. Some entry points for their interpretation are however provided by metrological notations, as well as text layout, which replaces grammar and syntax. Despite the inherent problems, the evidence seems sufficiently abundant to reach some consensus. Indeed, the first texts did not emerge in a void – they are part of a long incubation process that covers several millennia. During this period, various non-linguistic devices have been brought about, in order to preserve information (tokens, clay balls, counting sticks, abaci, etc.). It seems certain that such prehistoric accounting tools contributed significantly to the rise of the earliest texts, both in terms of repertoire of cuneiform signs (loosely inspired by the tokens) and their spatial organization within the writing space. However, several issues remain in our understanding of their historical context: their social setting, their use, their impact on urban culture, etc. Part of the problem is however methodological in nature, as the conceptual framework for the study of the earliest texts relies on the literate paradigm (i.e. it frames evidence in order to give primacy to the written over the non-written), and it ignores possible clues that may suggest that writing begun much earlier than the earliest texts that survived down to us.
  • 12am - 1pm: Arilès Remaki (SPHere, CNRS, Université Paris Cité)
    Le laboratoire de notations leibnizien : le cas des exposants
    Pour certaines notions mathématiques, on trouve au sein de l’œuvre de Leibniz une grande diversité de notations et de symboles employés, ce qui témoigne d’une activité de recherche portée sur l’élaboration de l’écriture même des concepts. Ce laboratoire scriptural a déjà été bien documenté dans le cas des signes ambigus, pour lesquels Leibniz entreprend des travaux très riches, sur une très courte période, durant sa jeunesse. Le cas des exposants a été traité, quant à lui, principalement dans le cadre du développement de la théorie des déterminants. Concernant le calcul exponentiel proprement dit, les travaux sur les notations restent peu connus et font intervenir un grand nombre de documents inédits. La période durant laquelle ils ont lieu est bien plus large, à savoir une dizaine d’années, et implique donc une difficulté supplémentaire d’ordre épistémologique : les cadres conceptuels décrits par ces notations sont-ils commensurables, au sens de Kuhn ?
    L’exposé se concentrera sur la tentative de Leibniz d’élaborer une notation fonctionnelle des exposants, propre à exprimer toutes les relations possibles. Cette entreprise souligne la relation complexe entre notation et concept, dans le processus de généralisation.
  • 3pm - 4:30pm: David Waszek (AHP-PReST)
    Notations and notational differences in the philosophy of mathematical practice
    Recent years have seen a surge of interest for notations (and more broadly for non-verbal forms of representation) in the philosophy of mathematical practice; much of this work is either directly inspired by the history of mathematics or clearly relevant to it. The first goal of this talk is to give a quick overview of this literature, distinguishing the profoundly different theoretical projects that coexist behind a seemingly shared subject matter. This overview will help me situate the purpose of the project I will pursue in the rest of the talk: that of analyzing notational differences and notational changes (at a small historical scale) as expressive reorganizations, which—roughly speaking—matter not because they change what practitioners can express, but because they change what can be expressed in a simple way, and thereby transform what is easily accessible in contexts of exploration and problem-solving. I will explore this idea through a close examination of two (if time allows!) examples: one from the history of the differential calculus in the late 17th century and one (based on joint work with Nicolas Michel) from the history of the enumerative calculus in the 1870s.

February 10, !! 11am - 4:30pm !!, Room Mondrian, 646A, hybrid !!

:: Diagrams

  • Scott Trigg (ALFA, SYRTE)
    Diagrams for Visualizing Structure and Motion in Islamicate Astronomy
    Theoretical astronomy in the premodern Islamicate world was both a continuation of, and a break with, Hellenistic astronomy. From the 11th-15th centuries, in particular, there was a shift in thinking about the conceptual building blocks of astronomical models. In the work of many Islamicate astronomers it was now only three-dimensional spheres, rather than two-dimensional circles, that were acceptable for explaining the complex motions of the heavens. My talk explores how diagrams exemplified these continuities and changes, using a range of manuscript sources from elementary treatises to advanced theoretical texts and commentaries. Diagrams provided a means of illustrating complicated celestial phenomena and new astronomical models, while at the same time the materiality of the page and even drawing conventions imposed limitations on what authors and scribes could represent. Exploring diagrams and their relation to texts and commentaries invites questions about the status of mathematical concepts and the knowledge provided by mathematical theories and models. In my talk I will reflect on themes such as thinking geometrically about physical objects in motion, the different uses of diagrams for illustrating structure versus diagrams for visualizing motion, and the kinds of reasoning and visualization implied by these diagrams - all of which must be taken into account in order to understand how diagrams functioned as reasoning tools through which knowledge of celestial phenomena was expressed, modeled, interpreted, and transmitted in conjunction with, or aside from, the text.
  • Antoine Pietrobelli (CRIMEL, Université de Reims, Champagne-Ardennes)
    L’utilisation des diagrammes dans la médecine de Galien
    Le médecin et philosophe Galien de Pergame (129-ca 216) a construit un système médical fondé sur le modèle des démonstrations géométriques. À plusieurs reprises dans son vaste corpus, il a recours à des diagrammes qui ont parfois été transmis par les manuscrits byzantins comme son schéma de l’œil, parfois reconstruits par les exégètes ultérieurs, comme son diagramme sur l’étendue de la santé (latitudo sanitatis). Les diagrammes étaient déjà présents dans les textes biologiques et médicaux anciens comme dans l’Histoire des animaux d’Aristote, les commentaires sur le traité Articulations d’Hippocrate ou chez Soranos pour illustrer l’anatomie de l’utérus ou les mauvaises positions du fœtus. Cette communication se propose d’explorer le rapport entre texte et diagramme chez Galien. Si certains érudits ont pu reconstruire des diagrammes à partir des textes galéniques, peut-on pousser cette approche pour interpréter certains traités de Galien comme des diagrammes mis en prose ? Quels usages Galien fait-il du diagramme : guide pour la dissection, illustration anatomique, mise en image d’un concept, présentation synoptique, preuve scientifique, outil pour la mémorisation ? Quels rôles jouent ces abstractions géométriques dans la construction du discours médical de Galien ?
  • postponed !!!
    Alban da Silva (IREM de Nouvelle-Calédonie)
    « Faire parler » les dessins sur le sable du Vanuatu. Approche ethnomathématique
    Il existe dans les sociétés traditionnelles du Vanuatu (Pacifique Sud) une activité culturelle consistant à dessiner, à même le sol, des figures symétriques à l’aide d’un doigt. Le dessinateur produit une ligne continue qui ne repasse pas continument sur elle-même, il ne lève pas le doigt durant le tracé et il finit son dessin à l’endroit où il l’a commencé.
    Dans un premier temps, je décrirai comment une enquête ethnographique menée chez les Raga de l’île de Pentecôte, m’a permis d’élaborer un modèle permettant de suggérer la dimension mathématique de cette pratique, notamment algorithmique. Je montrerai qu’il peut être fructueux de considérer les méthodes de tracé comme des chemins eulériens dans un graphe bien choisi, afin de faire des hypothèses sur les processus de création et de mémorisation. Cette méthodologie pouvant constituer une étape vers la compréhension des idées mathématiques développées chez les Raga, elle pourra intéresser à ce titre les historiens cherchant à analyser des diagrammes utilisés dans différents contextes culturels et historiques.

March 17

:: Change of support and editions

  • Sébastien Plutniak (Postdoctorant, projet PredictOp, Centre Emile Durkheim)
    Publishing scientific data and method, from print to digital: typology and gradual change in archaeology (1950s—1980s, France and Italy)
    In this communication, general questions about the publication of scientific data and methods will be addressed from a historical perspective. Particular attention to their changing editorial and material status will be paid. Archaeology has interesting aspects in this regard. From its early development, both publishing formats and quantification have been key issues in scientific archaeology, as illustrated by two significant publications: the book series “Description de l’Égypte”, presenting the results of Napoléon’s Egypt campaign, where engineers were committed to archaeological study; and the book “Inductive Metrology. Or, the Recovery of Ancient Measures from the Monuments” published in 1877 by British electric engineer Flinders Petrie. In these seminal works and later on, engineers and their specific knowledge and skills played crucial roles regarding the formatting and publishing of archaeological methods and data.
    I will first propose a typology of the data publishing methods, which led to determining a little considered type appearing like a “missing link” between printed and digital formats. Second, this type will be illustrated and discussed from a series of case studies from archaeology in South-western Europe during the second half of the 20th century, including:
    1) the diffusion of offprints in prehistoric archaeology,
    2) the journal “Archivio di tipologia analitica” and its attempt at publishing formalized data,
    3) and Jean-Claude Gardin’s attempts at producing and publishing data as punched-cards repositories.
    Third, I will examine how these innovations in publishing formats were supported and embedded in attempts at creating new documentation infrastructures and new forms of scientific organizations. The reasons why these attempts failed in the long term will be discussed with consideration to current developments in scientific publishing.
  • Edgar Lejeune (SPHere, CNRS, Université Paris Cité),
    Circulation of computer programs and corpora between linguistic and medieval history in the 1970s (France, Belgium).
    In the 1970s and 1980s, various groups of French medievalists borrowed computer- assisted methods from a new field in linguistic, lexicometry, in order to renew the study of political ideas in the late Middle Ages Europe. However, other field of linguistic also influenced computer-assisted historical studies elsewhere in Europe at the same period. This is for example the case in Leuven (Belgium), at the Centre de Traitement Électronique des Documents (CETEDOC) where the computer scientist Paul Tombeur and the historian Leopold Genicot elaborated between 1961 and 1975 a computer program that was made to study the philological aspects of medieval Belgium texts. This was also the case in Nancy (France), at the Centre de Recherches et d’Applications Linguistiques (CRAL), where medievalists adapted content analysis methods to the study of Vincent de Beauvais’ Speculum Maius, a major encyclopaedia of the XIIIth century.
    This presentation intends to compare two of these projects in order to understand how these methods circulated between medievalists in the 1970s and 1980s. The first pieces of evidence borrowed from my PhD dissertation show that two types of archive material are of great interest in order to observe these phenomena.
    Firstly, my study highlights that the circulation of computer programs is key to understand how methods circulated between these different disciplines. For example, a case -study described in my dissertation shows that the language of the medieval texts required the elaboration of a specific program for the historians at La Sorbonne University. Was this difficulty share by the other group of medievalists mentioned? And if not, how did they manage to use a pre-existent computer program?
    Secondly, it reveals that historians shared with linguists a set of corpora of edited texts on different storage devices, such as the famous IBM punched cards or magnetic bands. For example, medievalists from La Sorbonne chose to use punched cards and editing procedures that allowed the application of other computer programs than the one elaborated within their laboratory. Several questions derive from this observation: how did the practices of editing implied by the uses of different storage devices affect the possibility for these corpora to circulate? And did standards were developed during this time period?
    In order to address precise questions regarding these different issues, I will rely on the archives of the CRAL in Nancy (France), and the archives of the CETEDOC in Leuven (Belgium).
  • Manfred Thaller (Université de Cologne)
    Publishing sources in the shadow of methodological disputes
    When in the sixties through eighties of the last century computers became more or less easily available for academia, different parts of the Humanities were influenced by theoretical and methodological models – or just fashions? - which in turn influenced the possibility to use the new sets of tools considerably; and these influences were quite different between the disciplines. My discussion of the effects of them are heavily influenced by the developments in Germany, definitely not restricted to her, however.
    In the literary disciplines these decades were most prominently shaped by various theoretical schools, which focused on ways to interpret literature and the purpose of its academic discussion, and did not really depend very much on the access to texts or the statistical interpretation of textual phenomena: The application of computers to texts, particularly for editorial purposes, was, therefore in many ways the domain of the more conservative segments of literary studies. While in Germany the use of computers for editorial purposes – heavily dominated by Wilhelm Ott’s TUSTEP – was quite intensive from the seventies onward, the concept of editions behind that usage was highly conservative: an edition could be produced more cheaply with it; but it was in no imaginable conceptual aspect different from an edition produced in a traditional way.
    In history the situation was completely different: The great interest in the application of social science methods created a situation were “computer applications” (almost always understood to be targeted at the creation of quantitative results) became the hall mark of part of the discipline which understood itself as an intellectual avantgarde and was in turn viewed rather suspiciously by the more traditional historians. Which is not to say, that some of these more traditional historians did not engage in computer supported research themselves; until the late eighties there efforts where visible to rather specialized communities only. (Besides the employment of computers in editorial studies which closely paralleled the situation described for literary studies.)
    This situation changed during the eighties, when the application of computers by historians became for about fifteen years dominated by “databases”, rather than primarily quantitative applications, which resulted in quite a few approaches towards new forms for the publication of historical source material, including a much stronger interest in alternative models of “digital editions”. A development which in the literary disciplines became important only slightly later, with the advent of the internet, notwithstanding single pioneering applications, notably Kevin Kiernan’s Digital Beowulf.

April 14, 9:30pm - 5:30pm

:: Technical Vocabulary

  • Sophie Serra (ALFA, SYRTE)
    Words and notions in some Parisian astronomical texts of the beginning of the 13th century
    From the 1320s, Parisian Alphonsine astronomers — among whom we find John of Murs, John of Lignères and John of Saxony — formed a visible network that historians of sciences are nowadays able to identify. Indeed, as practitioners of astronomy, they are bound together by a common use of the Alphonsine Tables to calculate the movements of the celestial objects, instead of the Toledan Tables that had been long used before them. They also share common traits in their ways of displaying and using tables, and among these features are the use of tropical coordinates instead of sideral ones, the use of sexagesimal values for mean motion tables, arcs measured in signs of 60° instead of 30° and so forth.
    It is then through references to each other, borrowings of values, and re-elaboration of diagrams, rather than through theses that were defended head-on, that they can be considered as a unified “milieu”. It is undeniable that these authors knew each other and that they shared a certain conception of practicing astronomy. Can they also be defined by a terminological community that would reflect a common vision in the definition of astronomy, a conception of the nature of numbers, a use of abstraction, a relationship to approximation?
    Does the Alphonsine generation of Parisian astronomers show on these points a break with the previous generation (Jean de Sicile, Bernard de Verdun, the anonymous Parisian of the Florence Ashburn 211 manuscript...) on the one hand, and is this breat linked with the evolutions of the discussions at the Faculty of Arts of Paris, on the other hand? We will present some aspects of our investigation on these points.
  • Marie Lacomme, Edgar Lejeune, Arilès Remaki & al. (Université Paris Cité, ED 623, SPHere)
    Projet collectif du séminaire Disc : impact méthodologique de la polysémie des notions en histoire et en philosophie des sciences
    Le séminaire doctoral de SPHere ne se contente pas de fournir aux étudiants l’occasion de présenter leurs travaux de thèse devant leurs pairs. Au fur et à mesure des années, le séminaire s’est doté d’une identité propre à devenir le cadre d’un travail collectif fondé sur des questions communes. Malgré l’apparente diversité de leurs domaines de recherche, les participants du séminaire ont pris conscience des nombreuses réflexions transversales qu’ils partagent et du poids significatif qu’elles ont dans leur travail. Le besoin de mettre en forme l’activité du séminaire s’est naturellement fait sentir. Dans l’objectif de valoriser cette réflexion collective et de partager les résultats de cette entreprise, qui occupent une place centrale dans les travaux des doctorants de SPHere, nous avons formé le projet d’organiser une journée thématique et de publier un numéro de revue.
    Tous deux porteront sur ce qui est devenu une problématique centrale au cours du séminaire, du fait des convergences récurrentes entre nos travaux que les diverses séances avaient mises en évidence : l’attention particulière aux mots et aux noms au sein des sources, dans une démarche diachronique. Comment suivre les noms ? Après plusieurs discussions collectives visant à mieux définir le sujet, il est apparu que la question centrale porte sur l’usage polysémique des mots dans les sources et sur ses rapports avec les méthodes de l’historien et du philosophe des sciences. Mais de nombreuses difficultés sont alors apparues et font l’objet de cette présentation. L’attention particulière portée aux mots et à leurs usages au sein des textes permet d’établir un rapprochement thématique avec le séminaire « Histoire des sciences, Histoire du texte ». La présentation consistera donc à faire état du projet et des différentes contributions pour concentrer la discussion sur les questions et les difficultés que nous rencontrons et pour lesquels nous sommes convaincu que le séminaire HSHT peut apporter des éclairages très précieux.

May 12, 9:30am - 1:30pm

:: Fluidity, Adaptations, Translations

  • Julie Lefebvre (Université de Paris X-Nanterre)
    « Adapter » un texte scientifique ancien ? Questions à partir de l’examen de différentes adaptations des Éléments de géométrie d’Euclide
    Dans cet exposé, l’adaptation de texte sera définie en tant qu’elle prend place dans l’ensemble des discours ayant pour fonction de « tenir lieu » d’un autre discours. Le résumé, par exemple, ou encore, dans d’autres sphères d’activités sociales et avec de tout autres fonctions, le procès verbal ou le compte rendu, ont en effet pour point commun de devoir leur statut à la relation constitutive qu’ils entretiennent avec un autre discours, écrit ou oral, qui en est conçu comme la source et dont ils sont rémanents. En ceci, ces genres discursifs sont qualifiés de genres du « tenant lieu » (Authier-Revuz et Lefebvre 2015).
    Dans cet ensemble, deux traits caractérisent l’adaptation de texte : les attributs socio-culturels du texte-source et la nature énonciative de l’écart entre texte-source et texte adapté. Le texte-source est ainsi objet de distinction, de reconnaissance, au sein d’une sphère d’activités sociales donnée — la sphère littéraire ou la sphère scientifique par exemple. En outre, l’adaptation de texte se définit par la nature de l’écart, énonciatif, qui sépare le texte-source du texte adapté : on adapte un texte à un public auquel il n’était pas initialement destiné, ainsi, pour prendre un champ ayant fait l’objet de nombreuses études, des « adaptations jeunesse » de textes littéraires originellement écrits pour des adultes et produits massivement en Europe dès la fin du XVIIe siècle.
    Dès lors, considérer un texte adapté, c’est porter attention à la gestion de cet écart susceptible de jouer séparément ou simultanément au niveau de la syntagmatique (mots, phrases), à celui du découpage en « parts » du texte (préface, chapitres, parties, sommaire, notes de bas de page par exemple) et à l’identification desdites parts (titres, indexation numérique), ou encore au niveau sémiotique (illustrations). On envisagera ces aspects multiples en comparant différentes adaptations des Éléments de géométrie d’Euclide. Cet examen sera l’occasion de montrer, d’une part, comment le texte adapté peut constituer un outil précieux pour accéder aux représentations du lectorat d’un texte. Il permettra de questionner d’autre part les contours de la notion de texte-source et, par suite, de l’adaptation, dès lors qu’elle est dissociée de la notion d’« énonciation éditoriale » (Arabyan 2016).
  • Pan Shuyuan (Institute for the History of Natural Sciences, Pekin)
    “System and Order”: The Textual Formulation in the Classic-formation of the Chinese Translation of the Elements in the Early 17th Century
    Thanks to a collaboration between Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci (1552 - 1610) and Chinese literatus Xu Guangqi (1562 - 1633), the first Chinese translation of the Elements was published in 1607. On the basis, mainly, of the first six books of Christoph Clavius’s (1538 - 1612) Euclidis Elementorum liber XV (1574), Ricci and Xu not only translated definitions, postulates, axioms, and propositions, but they also frequently translated passages of Clavius’ commentary on them. Therefore, a considerable quantity of explanations and criticisms of Clavius as well as notes that he collected from previous commentators were introduced along with the Greek text of the classic. Further material, including quotations from ancient Chinese works, and Ricci and Xu’s reflections were also inserted. On the other hand, the translation embodied strong uniformity with respect to the form, which Ricci pointed as “system and order” (guimo cidi 規摹次第). According to the arrangement of those books in Clavius’s Euclid, the Chinese text was organized into six chapters (juan 卷), and the definitions of each book (as well as, for Book I, the postulates and the axioms) were set as a separated part: the Beginning (shou 首) of the corresponding chapter. On the basis of the formal division of a proposition described by Proclus, which Clavius followed, Ricci and Xu reformulated the structure of propositions. The enunciation was naturally placed at the very beginning of a proposition. In the following paragraph, for theorems, setting-out and definition of goal were combined into a division designated as ‘exposition’ (jie 解); for problems, the two parts were incorporated into the division ‘method’ (fa 法) which mainly corresponded to construction. Another division ‘argument’ (lun 論) contains the proof with the related construction. From a formal viewpoint, the indentation of the paragraphs starting with the terms ‘exposition’, ‘method’, ‘argument’ also differs from that of the enunciation paragraph. In addition, Ricci and Xu also classified the material that they selected and appended to the main part into divisions to which they attached various designations and for which they adopted distinctive indentations. As a result, the translation was further systematized and standardized, thereby being involved in a process of classic-formation.

June 2nd

To participate online, we thank you by advance to write latest 24h before the session to: K. Chemla with the keyword "2-06-22-zoomHSHT" as subject

:: Lecture notes

  • Sara Confalonieri (Université Paris Cité, HPS, SPHere)
    Sur les cours de Fourier à l’École Polytechnique
    Joseph Fourier enseigna à plusieurs reprises les mathématiques à l’Ecole Polytechnique (1795-1798 et 1802). Cet exposé vise notamment à reparcourir l’évolution des recherches de Fourier sur sa généralisation de la règle de signes de Descartes (résultat qui portera après le nom de théorème de Budan-Fourier) à travers les transcription de ces cours prises par des étudiants et les fragments qui nous restent parmi les œuvres de Fourier.
  • Wang Xiaofei (Institute for the History of Natural Sciences, Pékin)
    Les cours sur le calcul différentiel de Joseph Fourier
    Le but de mon exposé est de clarifier les rapports entre trois différents manuscrits de notes de cours prises par des étudiants. En relation avec ces manuscrits on trouve deux cours différents de Fourier sur le calcul différentiel. Dans l’exposé, je vais traiter du public et des dates des cours. Je vais aussi analyser la méthode de calcul différentiel proposée par Fourier.
  • Organisation for next year

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Building Condorcet, University of Paris, campus Diderot, 4, rue Elsa Morante, 75013 - Paris*. Plan.
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Metro : lines 14 and RER C, stop: Bibliothèque François Mitterrand ou ligne 6, stop: Quai de la gare. Bus: 62 and 89 (stop: Bibliothèque rue Mann), 325 (stop: Watt), 64 (stop: Tolbiac-Bibliothèque François Mitterrand)