Latitudes of the Body

Human-Based Measurement and its Contexts, from Leonardo to Newton (1400-1700)

International Summer School

21-24 July 2021, Domus Comeliana – Pisa


Keynote Speakers

Martin KEMP – Oxford University

Michael STOLBERG Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg 

Giulia Martina WESTON The Courtauld Institute of Art


Featuring also

Francesca ANTONELLI – University of Bologna

Jonathan BARRY University of Exeter

Andreas BLANK – Universität Paderborn

Vivian NUTTON –  Centre for the Study of Medicine and the Body in the Renaissance (CSMBR)

Silvia PARIGI – Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici

Alain TOUWAIDEInstitute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions

Fabiola ZURLINI Studio Firmano



Fabrizio BIGOTTI – Centre for the Study of Medicine and the Body in the Renaissance (CSMBR), Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, University of Exeter


Themes of the Summer School

The 2021 CSMBR Summer School will explore theories, applications, problems, and contexts of human-based measurements across the late medieval and early modern period (c.1400-1700). It builds upon four strictly related questions:


How was it like experiencing the world before the advent of universally standardised measurement?

What role did the human body, its limbs and the five senses play in defining spaces, distances, values, lists of objects, schemes and prices?

How were systems of human-based measurement affected by the advent of early modern technology?

To what extent can we replace human-based and value-laden measurement with technology-based parameters?


These questions will be addressed both in presentations and roundtables by focusing on three main themes, namely


the Body as a Canon and its Proportions

the Body as  a Unit of Measurement: Place, Space, and Orientation

the Body as a Unit of Value: Quality and Price


Click on the Image To Download the Poster

Under each headline speakers will be discussing how the three-dimensionality of the body and its limbs affected theories of proportion (Galen, Leonardo, Dürer, Vesalius, Valverde, Palladio, etc.) as well as the shaping of architectural and urban spaces in normal and pathological conditions (e.g. homes, temples, hospices, pharmacies, hospitals and areas of confinement); the methods and orders of dissection and their impact on learned representations of the body (Berengario da Carpi, Charles Estienne, Bassiano Landi, Vesalius, Van Spiegel, Acquapendente, Willis, Boerhaave, etc.). Particular attention will be devoted to the five senses and to the way the sense of taste defined values of quality/purity and, accordingly, prices of foodstuff on the market (drugs, spices, etc.), how the mapping of colors and shades helped classifying substances (uroscopy, classification of mixtures); how the anatomy of the eye was related to the definition of “visual space” in the perception of external objects, the development of acoustics and harmonics in relation to the anatomy of the ear as well as, more generally, how philosophical theories of natural space (locus) and spatial orientation developed side by side with an analysis of sense-perception. Special emphasis shall also be laid on how units of measure in terms of inches, palms, fathoms, and feet were relevant in the making of maps, astronomical observations and diagrams of latitude as well as on the relation between heartbeat and time, in medicine as well as in music. While strongly rooted in the CSMBR intellectual history tradition, the summer school will present and discuss a variety of verbal and non-verbal sources (e.g. manuscripts, images, music pieces, and artefacts) in a multidisciplinary approach that aims at attracting and welcoming scholars with different backgrounds, interests and expertise.


The final programme of the event is available here



The summer school spans four days, articulated as 3+1, namely three days of lectures plus a final day entirely dedicated to roundtables and to the discussion of presentations from attendees (see below). To these, two workshops are added: the former (late morning) shall focus on reading and interpreting manuscript sources relevant to the visualisation of the body (Stolberg), the latter (late afternoon) will be devoted to hands-on experimentation with replicas of early modern instruments (esp. Santorio’s pulsilogium).

To engage fully with the speakers during this four-day experience, attendees are strongly invited to elaborate their own contributions on the topics discussed, either in the form of PowerPoint presentations and/or as short papers (max. 5 min). These will be followed by thematic roundtables focusing on the analysis of non-verbal sources, including relevant artefacts, images, videos, and music tracks.

Roundtables topics can also be proposed by the attendees upon reaching an agreement amongst not less than 3 people interested.  For organizational reasons, only two such round tables can be proposed and must be communicated to the panel at least 3 weeks prior to the official beginning of the Summer School.


Registration Process

The summer school is open to students and scholars at all stages of their careers. Sources will be pre-circulated in order for attendees to engage fruitfully in conversation with speakers in roundtables at the end of the fourth day. Small presentations (no longer than 5-7 minutes each) are also welcome.

Participation is permitted both in presence and online

The registration form can be completed online (here). The venue of the event is the Domus Comeliana.

  • Early Bird Registration (15th January – 31st March) = € 390 in presence*, € 190 online** EXPIRED
  • Regular Registration (1st April – 20th July) = € 490  in presence* FULLY BOOKED, € 240 online**

* In-presence participation fees are inclusive of all the costs for breaks and lunches at the Domus Comeliana plus the final dinner and an extra two guided tours to the Campo dei Miracoli and Palazzo dei Cavalieri in Pisa. Please note that, out of safety concerns and organizational reasons, the number of attendees is limited to a maximum of 20 persons.

**Please note that online participation in workshops and roundtables will be limited


Payment can be made via Bank Transfer to Fondazione Comel, specifying the object CSMBR Summer School 2021

IBAN: IT 93 M 03268 01605 052882315420


BANK ADDRESS: Banca Sella – Agenzia 5, Viale Piave 4 – 20129 Milano (MI) Italy,


The receipt of payment must be attached to the registration form before sending it. Please, note that in order to be considered as early bird registrations, complete forms should be sent by the deadline (31st March).


Covid-19 Warning

In the case of Covid-19 restrictions still being in place and resulting in the impossibility to gather in person, the Summer School shall then be postponed to a later date or canceled. Registered participants will then have the possibility to agree to reschedule or to receive a full refund.


Santorio Fellowship

The CSMBR 2021 Summer School runs in association with the Santorio Fellowship scheme.

Five Santorio Fellowships will be offered throughout by means of an application process. Applicants should send a cover letter (max. 300 words), CV (max. 2 pages), and a reference letter to the following address:

The deadline is 15 April 2021 with successful applications notified by mid-May.


Online Community Offers

Exclusive for Members of the CSMBR Facebook Community: 10% off on Early Bird Registrations.

Valid until 14 March 2021