HomeSantorio Fellows 2019Nuno Castel-Branco

Nuno Castel-Branco

I am immensely grateful to Professor Fabrizio Bigotti and the other members of the Centre for the Study of Medicine and the Body in Renaissance for awarding me the Santorio Fellowship for Medical Humanities and Science which allowed me to participate in the International Summer School The Kiln, the Alembic and the Clockwork: Early Modern Representations of the Body and its Changing Matter.

As a PhD student in the graduate program of History of Science and Technology at Johns Hopkins University, this three-day school introduced me to some of the most prestigious scholars whose work I was already familiar with. Fellows and other delegates were able to interact with them not just in the talks we attended, but also in the informal moments of discussion and in the breaks of the school.

The diversity of interests among the faculty was particularly stimulating: Professors Vivian Nutton and Hiro Hirai spoke to us about Ancient and Renaissance anatomy, Professors Fabrizio Bigotti and Benjamin Goldberg taught early modern anatomy; Professors Filip Buyse and Fabrizio Baldassari explained 17th-century mechanical philosophy and Professor Fabiola Zurlini explored the role of academies in the patronage of science in 17th-century Italy. This created a perfect match between the school’s themes and my own research topics. My research focuses on the work of the anatomist Nicolaus Steno (1638-1686), his intellectual networks and their influence on his own varied research on anatomy, mixed mathematics, chymistry and theology.  The opportunity to introduce our work and receive feedback from the participants – both faculty and other graduate students – became instrumental in the writing of my dissertation proposal.

Finally, the generous hospitality with which we were received by Dr. Tomaso Dell’Acqua and Giulia Buscemi from the Fondazione Comeliana allowed the program to run smoothly in a beautiful location right by the leaning tower of Pisa. The environment in which the school took place at the Domus Comeliana facilitated much the interaction between the participants and faculty alike.