Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, History, Columbia University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2018
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Columbia University
Copper-Alloys and Cures: A Material History of Scientific Translation in Norman Sicily

My dissertation evaluates the place of Norman Sicily (ca. 1060-1200) in the translation of Arabic science into Latin and the subsequent development of Latin science through the material record surrounding the translation movement. Since the work of Charles Homer Haskins (1927), medieval scholarship has considered Norman Sicily as one of two major centers of scientific translation in the twelfth century, along with Iberia. I investigate the extent to which translation activities were organized and significant enough to be considered a movement, as well as the ways that scientific practices, rather than texts, were used to transmit knowledge. My research maps the translations made in Norman Sicily and their impact, and then explores how the scientific theories from those translated texts did or did not resonate with contemporary practices: the production of copper-alloy objects as an application of alchemical metallurgy, and the trade of medicinal spices as indicative of the medieval health regimen. Ultimately, I posit that the act of translation was merely the final step in a multi-dimensional process of cultural transmission, and that in fact more knowledge was being transmitted through experience up until Muslims were largely expelled from Sicily at the end of the twelfth century.