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Itinerant Cultural Agents in Early Modern Europe and the Scotsman Thomas Seget: A Case-Study

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - AGENTSEGET (Itinerant Cultural Agents in Early Modern Europe and the Scotsman Thomas Seget: A Case-Study )

Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2018-08-31

AGENTSEGET is a project that aimed at challenging the idea that Scotland played virtually no role in the Scientific Revolution. In order to bring to light the role of Scotland, the project focused on the concept of mobility within early modern scientific communities, asking what qualities made these cultural agents suitable to transmitting knowledge, how did this materially happened, how did political and religious factors influence the process, and what impact did these cultural agents have on the way science developed in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. These questions were primarily to be addressed through the case study of Thomas Seget, a rather neglected figure in the history of science and yet, as the MSCA fellow and the sponsor argued, a key actor in the transfer and production of early modern scientific knowledge in early modern Europe. The project aimed to provide important insight into how knowledge travels and what are the key factors that may hinder its transmission. The ultimate objective of the project was to demonstrate how mobility has always been a crucial element in the production of knowledge, and how the study of early modern dynamics can illuminate the importance of cultural, political and geographic factors in hindering or facilitating knowledge production within Europe.
This report covers the period 1 September to 14 December 2016. Unfortunately the project came to an abrupt end with the departure of the MSCA fellow in early December. Personal and professional reasons meant the fellow left for a prestigious fellowship at the Huntington/Caltech, where he will remain for two years. Despite this, some preliminary results were achieved by the sponsor.

*As planned in WP1, Dr AzzolinI and Dr Gattei designed a new course on the Scientific Revolution in Global Perspective, originally to be taught with the MSCA fellow in Year 2. Mobility and knowledge transfer are a key aspect of the course.

*the Sponsor and the Fellow have also worked out the preliminary plan for the international colloquium on _Itinerant Intellectuals: The Lives and Works of European Cultural Mediators at the Time of the Scientific Revolution_, which would include a pool of international speakers. This was one of the Major Milestones of WP2. Given the departure of the fellow and the end of the project, the colloquium will need to receive additional funding from other funding bodies and Dr Azzolini has already contacted Dr Steve Reid (Glasgow University) to apply for funding via the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The generous support of the Horizon 2020 scheme will be fully acknowledged on any promotional material. It is still envisaged that, even without the MSCA fellow full input, the outcome of the conference will be an edited volume.

* A semester review meeting composed by the Head of Subject Area (History), the director of research, a lecturer in Scottish History took place to review the MSCA fellow progression towards his goals: the fellow submitted a three-month plan for S2, a review of the objectives met in S1, and a draft of Ch. 1 for examination and feedback. The meeting took place on 5 December and the material submitted was deemed of satisfactory quality to meet the progression criteria set up by the panel. Feedback was given to the fellow orally by all members of the panel, and in writing by the sponsor and the colleague in Scottish history.

*Early dissemination of results took the form of a conference attendance (planned at 2.2.2 on the original application): a panel entitled "Scottish Itinerant Cultural Agents of the Scientific Revolution" took place at the annual meeting of the largest US conference in the field, the Renaissance Society of America, in Chicago at the end of March. The fellow had by then left the project and was employed by a US institution. Hence there were no costs attached to the project. Together with the sponsor and the fellow, the other participants included Dr Vera Keller from the University of Oregon, Dr Pietro Daniel Omodeo from the Max-Plank Institut fuer Wissenschaftgeschichte, and Dr David McOmish (Ludwig Bolzmann Institute for Neo Latin Studies and the University of Glasgow). This panel, which was very well attended, has led to the submission of two of these papers to the journal _History of the Universities_. The articles are presently under review.

*Work on the blog had started but did not progress sufficiently for its launch.
Unfortunately, many of the other objectives were not met due to the early termination of the grant, but the sponsor is planning to continue activities to meet some of those goals in other ways through other grant applications.
If accepted, the two articles that have been submitted to _History of Universities_ will firmly advance our knowledge of the important contribution of Scottish intellectuals to the Scientific Revolution and showcase how intellectual mobility, a characteristic of early modern Europe that is too often neglected, offered crucial contributions to the circulation of cutting-edge scientific ideas that led to the Scientific Revolution.
Statue of Galileo Galilei Uffizi, Florence