My current book project, Chymical Life in Early Modern Europe, stems from my dissertation and takes the Wittenberg professor and physician Daniel Sennert (1572-1637) as a microhistorical nucleus in a larger history about the development and influence of chymistry (i.e., alchemy and early chemistry) and chymical medicine, including an account of how chymistry became overtly natural-philosophical, was absorbed into the university, and became an important locus for battles regarding skepticism and credulity. My larger thesis is that this institutionalization of chymical knowledge coincided with the development of novel cultures of experimentation and communication, and this synthesis facilitated a chymical revolution which had significant continuities with eighteenth-century chemistry and the Chemical Revolution. I am also especially interested in early-modern letters and the insight they give into the lives and aspirations of chymists and chymical physicians.
I have had the pleasure of teaching for several years at different institutions and in diverse subject areas. At Columbia I have taught “Contemporary Civilization,” a required course in The Core Curriculum on the political, moral, social, and religious communities that humans construct for themselves. As a graduate student I taught multiple surveys of the history and philosophy of science at Indiana University and the University of Pennsylvania, and I proposed and taught a course on the history of medieval and Renaissance medicine.
I spent two years carrying out research in Germany, first in Leipzig and Halle an der Saale through a Fulbright Grant and a NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, and then at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and the Freie Universität in Berlin via a DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst).
I have worked as an editorial assistant and laboratory technician for the Chymistry of Isaac Newton Project, where I encoded Newton’s manuscripts and even reconstructed a variety of Isaac Newton’s and Robert Boyle’s alchemical experiments.
E-mail: jak2259 AT columbia edu