Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Art History, McGill University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2004
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, University of Chicago
Robert Hooke Fecit: Making and Knowing in Restoration England

From the early 1660s until his death in 1703, Robert Hooke served as "Curator of Experiments" to the Royal Society of London, Restoration England's novel state-sponsored scientific institution. As my project will show, Hooke drew from his training as a courtly painter to develop the artistic skills and conceptual framework essential to his evolving, experimental study of nature. But, with the same strokes, I argue, he created an institutional position within the Restoration court through which these artistic knowledges newly mattered. Inhabiting the Society's London headquarters as paid employee, Hooke broadened his authority to include keeping the Society's early museum and serving as its resident architect. Drawing upon resources available only in England, I will elaborate this enterprise, showing how Hooke used the practice of drawing to conceive and direct scientific activity as "discovery"; formulated his museum as a model of the "attentive mind"; and developed his architectural works as a materialization of attentively-discovered "form." By elucidating the breadth of his practices and the conceptual structures through which he integrated them, my dissertation positions Hooke's work as not only the fundamental lynch-pin to any historical account of scientific imaging in early modem England, but a crucial site for understanding the mutual formation of British art and science more broadly.