Tara Numedal: "The Alchemist as Virgin Mary"
- Date: 11/21/2017 at 1:15 PM – 3:00 PM
- Location: Engelska parken - The Rausing Room
- Organizer: Department of History of Science and Ideas
- Contact person: H. Otto Sibum
Office for History of Science
Tara Numedal, Department of History, Brown University: "The Alchemist as Virgin Mary: Anna Zielgerin and the Lion's Blood"
In this talk, I will take the dramatic tale of Anna Zieglerin's rise and fall at a ducal court in the 1570s as a point of entry into the intersection of science, gender, and religious culture in Reformation Germany. One of the few women alchemists about whom we have extant sources, Zieglerin practiced alchemy in her own laboratory, recorded her recipes involving a golden oil called the lion's blood, and attracted the support of a German duke for her alchemical work. This talk will examine the ways that she used her signature golden oil, "the lion’s blood," to propose a powerful new configuration of alchemy and Christianity. In Anna Zieglerin’s hands, alchemy had the radical potential to move beyond simply understanding the unfolding events of sacred time, to actually intervening in and manipulating them. Anna’s body was crucial to her alchemical project as well. In particular, I am interested in how Anna deployed her own body as both a kind of instrument in the laboratory and as a means to make both spiritual and alchemical authority visible in a period when that authority was deeply contested.