… to my electronic repository of professional enterprise.
I am an academic and a maker. As a historian of early modern science, I examine 17th century medico-alchemical laboratory technologies, materials and sensory experiences, as well as the production and trade of chemical medicine in the British Atlantic world. This research extends to the study of emblem culture in alchemical practice as a form of encrypting theoretical and practical information as allegorized text and images. As a maker, my work encompasses jewelry studies where I views the histories and techniques of jewelry making as an intellectual question and a humanitarian concern. These interests draw from my previous professional experience in Toronto’s jewelry industry as a designer and wax model-maker. I received my PhD from the Bard Graduate Center, and I am the Director and founder of 12 Keys Consultancy & Design, LLC.
My academic research, publications, and works in progress center on 17th-century medico-alchemical culture. For the past few years, I have been working on Furnace and Fugue: A Digital Edition of Michael Maier’s Atalanta fugiens (1618) with Scholarly Commentary. This born-digital publication, co-edited with Tara Nummedal (Brown University, History), has its genesis in my postdoctoral research at the Science History Institute (formerly the Chemical Heritage Foundation), from which emerged a multi-disciplinary collaboration involving historians of science and of art, musicologists and performers, digital scholars, and rare books curators. Furnace and Fugue has been developed by Brown University Library’s Mellon-supported Digital Publications Initiative, and will be published by the University of Virginia Press in Fall 2020 as an open-access edition.
My current research focuses on the laboratory work of a 17th century Puritan alchemist named John Allin and his production of chemical remedies for his own medical practice and commercial gain in the trans-Atlantic pharmaceutical trade. This project examines how Allin’s millenarian religious beliefs shaped his entrepreneurial practice of experimental science in England and America.
I teach students at undergraduate and graduate levels as well as adult learners, I am a history educator to jewelry industry professionals, and I lecture for museum outreach programs. My teaching practice combines the study of texts, images, and objects with hands-on work using tools and materials.
Please direct enquiries to bilak12keys[at]gmail[dot]com
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