Colbert_Presenting_the_Members_of_the_Royal_Academy_of_Sciences_to_Louis_XIV_in_1667Most of my historical writing has focused on European (and a little American) science and medicine between about 1650 and 1750, with some forays back into the sixteenth century and forward into the nineteenth.  My current book, The Courtiers’ Anatomists: Animals and Humans in Louis XIV’s Paris, was published in 2015 by the University of Chicago Press. It is about anatomy, animals, and natural history in Paris between about 1640 and 1730, with the main focus on the period between 1660 and 1700.   I argue that human and particularly animal anatomy played a critical role in the development of the experimental methods that are central to the development of modern science, and that dissection and natural history were as important as astronomy and physics in the events we call the Scientific Revolution.  Among the human players in my story are Jean Pecquet, Claude Perrault, and Joseph-Guichard Duverney — none of them exactly household words in the literature of the Scientific Revolution.

In the past decade, I’ve also been involved in a research project with marine ecologist Jenny Dugan (UCSB) on the ecological and cultural history of a Santa Barbara wetland, the former Campbell Ranch, which is now part of the Coal Oil Point Reserve (part of the University of California’s Natural Reserve System) and also part of the research site for the NSF-funded Santa Barbara Coastal Long Term Ecological Research project (SBC-LTER).  I am an investigator for the SBC-LTER.  I’ve recently begun to direct a history project at another LTER site, the Andrews Forest in Oregon.

I’m starting a new research project the cultural history of the human skeleton and skull in early modern Europe, which recently won a Standard Grant from the National Science Foundation.

4 thoughts on “Writing

  1. Hello! merci d’avoir partagé cet article et aussi toutes ces belles photos sur ton blog. je suis également passionné par les animaux et j’ai même débuté un blog y’a peu de temps. a bientôt, Julie


  2. Toni Kelner

    I learned about your studies into the cultural history of the human skeleton and skull via “The Gruesome History of Making Human Skeletons” and couldn’t wait to visit your blog. I write about skeletons, to, but not in any way that would compete with your work–I write murder mysteries with a crime-solving duo that consists of an adjunct English professor and her BFF Sid, a walking, talking skeleton. So naturally I’ve always interested in learning more about skeletons.

    I was curious about your statement that replica skeletons replaced the real thing in medical schools. (“Now most of the skeletons used in medical schools are plastic, but the ones that were used a couple hundred years ago—they were all people,” says Guerrini.) In the book THE RED MARKET, author Scott Carney says that until laws in India changed in 1985 and skeletons became harder to get and more expensive, most medical schools did reply on the real thing. I used as background material in one of my mysteries, so I’m sure hoping I didn’t get it wrong.

    At any rate, I look forward to read the results of your research!


  3. Anita Guerrini

    Dear Toni, Thank you so much for your interest in my work. You are right that real skeletons were in medical schools at least until the 80s — no doubt there are some still around. At an exhibit at the Wellcome in London a few years ago, I learned that human skulls were supplied from India until 1992! Your mysteries sound great, I’m a mystery fan and I will look them up. Best, Anita


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