CfP: Applied Arts of Alchemy Virtual Symposium

Daniel Mitchell's picture

Call for Papers

“The Applied Arts of Alchemy”

Virtual Symposium, 20–21 May 2021

Center for Historical Research

Science History Institute


The historiography of alchemy has significantly expanded over the last decade, demonstrating that its theoretical and practical applications underpinned diverse medical and scientific advances in the early modern period. Alchemy was more than a scholarly, hermetic art: it was a dynamic, entrepreneurial pursuit that supported the rise of the early chemical and medical industries. While attempts to discover the philosophers’ stone were certainly a part of philosophical knowledge, alchemy and its outputs were embedded into European society, from dye-making and distilling to the development of new drugs. This virtual symposium will explore alchemy’s practical and applied uses and their lasting impact on chemistry, technology, medicine, experimentation, and the marketplace. Through explorations of entrepreneurship, patronage, and commerce, we will examine the place of alchemical knowledge, ingredients, and products in a proto-industrial developing global market.


Virtual panels and workshops will be held on 20–21 May 2021, 11am–3pm EST. We encourage proposals from scholars at all stages of their careers.


We invite 150–250 word proposals for short, 10-minute virtual presentations related to practical applications of early modern alchemical knowledge. These may include:

-        An overview of a new project that is in development

-        A shortened version of a traditional conference paper

-        A showcase for a digital product that has recently launched

Alternatively, if you are interested in proposing a collaborative round table or workshop, please submit a panel abstract of 250–350 words. All proposals should be accompanied by a resume or short CV for each participant.



5pm EST on Tuesday, December 15, 2020. Proposals and all questions should be sent to Successful applicants will be notified in early January 2021.


Keynote Speaker

Bruce Moran, University Foundation Professor of History, Emeritus, and editor of Ambix



Michelle DiMeo, Arnold Thackray Director of the Othmer Library, Science History Institute

Lisa Berry Drago, Research Curator, Science History Institute