Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Nick Wilding

Second Advisor

Jacob Selwood

Third Advisor

Jared Poley

Fourth Advisor

Jennifer Rampling


This dissertation is a biography of a text, Fasciculus Chemicus (1631). The seventeenth-century life of this text, from its inception to its vernacularization, sheds light on broader natural philosophical and textual issues inherent to alchemical knowledge-making. The first chapter of this case-study is a survey of all available biographical information of its author, Arthur Dee, supplemented and contextualized with original primary source discoveries. This provides a setting for the creation of Fasciculus Chemicus as well as juxtaposes political issues of authority, patronage, and medical practice of a seventeenth-century courtly physician. The second chapter addresses the hand-press production and subsequent intentional anomalies found in the printed Fasciculus Chemicus, of which there are two editions (1631, 1650). Then, a bibliographical description and analysis is provided for the three issues of the first edition, which leads into investigations of ghost editions and a special dedicatory Rosicrucian issue. The third chapter examines the possibility of an alchemical scribal culture through the lens of scribal copies of Fasciculus Chemicus and other seventeenth-century alchemical manuscripts copies from print. This presents the reciprocal nature of material reuse and recycling between manuscript and hand-press texts. The fourth chapter deals with material evidence of alchemical speculation in the margins of seventeenth-century alchemical texts such as drawings and doodles, creative cross-referencing, and ciphers and pseudonomia. The epilogue to the story of the seventeenth-century life of Fasciculus Chemicus responds to issues of English vernacularization and curation of knowledge through the scope of ‘chymical collections’ such as Theatrum Chemicum (1602-1661) and Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum (1652). This allows for broader questions to be posed regarding Baroque science and alchemical knowledge-making practices.

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