The Department of History invites all members of the campus community to attend a lecture, titled “A Cultural and Visual History of Seat-Furniture and Design in the History of Science” Monday, April 4, from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m., in Mather House, Room 100.
Omar W. Nasim, professor of history of science at the University of Regensburg in Germany, will talk about his recent book on the place of seat-furniture in the history of science, particularly with respect to the astronomer’s gendered and racialized labor and body in it.
Nasim focuses on mechanically adjustable observing chairs used in conjunction with telescopes in Europe, Great Britain, and the United States in the 19th century, and their widely distributed image for bourgeois spectators as markers of both rationalized comfort and energized masculinity. In turn, these images are contrasted with others by European artists that showcased oriental astronomers seated cross-legged.
Nasim argues that the cross-legged posture was physiognomically expressive for bourgeois spectators of character, “race,” and morality, but also of the epistemic and historical status of non-western science and knowledge.