Encyclopedia or Kaleidoscope? When Private Philosophy Chambers Go Public


Wednesday, November 1, 2017, 6:00pm to 7:30pm


Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy Street, Cambridge

In this lecture, James Delbourgo, associate professor of the history of science and the Atlantic World at Rutgers University, reflects on the restaging of Harvard’s Philosophy Chamber and asks what kind of museological value lies in undoing the specialization of knowledge to return to the universal: does it reconstitute an enlightened encyclopedism or ignite a chain reaction of kaleidoscopic juxtapositions? Given the apparent contrast between secretive early modern universalism and the public character of modern specialized knowledge, what does it mean to restage private philosophy chambers for public audiences in 2017?

This program is presented in conjunction with the special exhibition The Philosophy Chamber: Art and Science in Harvard’s Teaching Cabinet, 1766–1820, on view through December 31, 2017.

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