The Rediscovery of Vesalius’ Fabrica - 15.12.2016

Workshop with Dr. Mark Somos (Yale)

Vesalius’ De humani corporis fabrica is the foundational work of modern anatomy. First published in Basel in 1543, the Fabrica revised Galenic orthodoxy on human physiology, turned this mostly text-based discipline into a visual enterprise, and enriched it with countless observations. Partly because of its lavish illustrations, many assume that the book was designed to secure Vesalius the position of court physician to Charles V, and was therefore printed in small numbers. One scholar called it a “book that nobody read”; another argued that it was bought more than read; and some still regard it as a coffee table book for the ultra-rich.

The workshop presents and discusses a project wich aims at finding and describing all copies of the 1543 and 1555 Basel editions, the two that Vesalius himself supervised. The project hase identified considerably more copies than previous censuses, and reached a better understanding of distribution and movement. The new census also transforms our knowledge of reading practices, censorship, the interplay between surgical practice and teaching and image and text, and the appeal to observation and ancient and modern authorities.

This workshop presents comprehensive results, theoretical and practical methodology, and invites students to acquire or extend skills by examining Basel copies.


Dr. Mark Somos is Lecturer in Political Science at Yale and Senior Visiting Research Fellow at Sussex Law School. He holds a BA in History and an MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History from Cambridge, an AM in Government and Social Policy and a PhD in Political Science from Harvard, an LLM in International Security and Law from Sussex, and a PhD in Law from Leiden. His research and teaching interests include secularisation, intersections of science and law, and constitutional history. Dr. Somos is visiting fellow at the Basel Graduate School of History in December 2016.

When & where

15.12.2016 - 9.30 am - 1.00 pm
Kanonegasse 27, 4051 Basel


For all participants: via Flexiform no later than 1st December 2016

For PhD students aiming to earn 1 ECTS point: Via MOnA no later that 15th October 2016