Date of Award

12-2020

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

First Advisor

Nick Wilding

Second Advisor

Jacob Selwood

Third Advisor

Jared Poley

Fourth Advisor

Jennifer Rampling

Abstract

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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