Prof. Nick Wilding of the Department of History has recently published his new book, Galileo’s Idol: Gianfrancesco Sagredo and the Politics of Knowledge (2014).
Galileo’s Idol offers a vivid depiction of Galileo’s friend, student, and patron, Gianfrancesco Sagredo (1571–1620). Sagredo’s life, which has never before been studied in depth, brings to light the inextricable relationship between the production, distribution, and reception of political information and scientific knowledge.
Nick Wilding uses as wide a variety of sources as possible—paintings, ornamental woodcuts, epistolary hoaxes, intercepted letters, murder case files, and others—to challenge the picture of early modern science as pious, serious, and ecumenical. Through his analysis of the figure of Sagredo, Wilding offers a fresh perspective on Galileo as well as new questions and techniques for the study of science. The result is a book that turns our attention from actors as individuals to shifting collective subjects, often operating under false identities; from a world made of sturdy print to one of frail instruments and mistranscribed manuscripts; from a complacent Europe to an emerging system of complex geopolitics and globalizing information systems; and from an epistemology based on the stolid problem of eternal truths to one generated through and in the service of playful, politically engaged, and cunning schemes. (from the University of Chicago Press’ press materials).
Prof. Wilding’s area of specialization is the early modern history of science and communication. In 2012 Wilding uncovered a faked copy of Galileo’s Siderus Nuncius (Venice, 1610), a discovery covered by the New York Times. Prof. Wilding’s other publications include:
- “Galileo and the Stain of Time,” California Italian Studies (2011), 2, no. 1.
- “Manuscripts in Motion: The Diffusion of Galilean Copernicanism” in Italian Studies (2011), 66, 2:221-233, Scribal Culture in Italy, 1450-1700.
- “Galilean Angels,” in Conversations with Angels: Essays Towards a History of Spiritual Communication, 1100–1700, ed. Joad Raymond (2011), 67–89.
- “Galileo Galilei,” The Literary Encyclopedia (2011).
- Book review, The Accademia del Cimento and its European Context,” ed. Marco Beretta, Antonio Clericuzio, and Lawrence M. Principe, in British Journal for the History of Science (2011) 44, no. 4: 592-593.
- Book review, Galileo: Watcher of the Skies by David Wootton and Galileo by John Heilbron, in London Review of Books (2 June 2011) 33, no. 11:31-22.
- “The Return of Thomas Salusbury’s Life of Galileo (1664)” in British Journal for the History of Science (June 2008) 41, no. 2:241-265.
- “Galileo’s Idol: Gianfrancesco Sagredo Unveiled,” Galilaeana: Journal of Galilean Studies 3 (2006): 229-245.
- “Graphic Technologies” in Robert Hooke: Tercentennial Studies, edited by Michael Hunter and Michael Cooper (2006), 123-134.
- “Publishing the Polygraphy: Manuscript, Instrument, and Print in the Work of Athanasius Kircher,” in Athanasius Kircher: The Last Man Who Knew Everything, ed. Paula Findlen (2004), 283 -296.