Furnace & Fugue

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Furnace and Fugue: A Digital Edition of Michael Maier’s Atalanta fugiens (1618) with Scholarly Commentary is a born-digital publication based on my 2013-14 postdoctoral research project about Atalanta fugiens at the Science History InstituteAtalanta fugiens is a remarkable 17th-century multi-media book by Michael Maier that presents his paean to wisdom achieved through alchemical arts using music, image, and text.

Emblem 12 - Atalanta fugiens (1618)

I co-edited Furnace and Fugue with Tara Nummedal, Professor of History at Brown University. Our project has been produced through Brown University’s Digital Publishing Initiative, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and it will be published by the University of Virginia Press in July 2020.

Furnace and Fugue editors!

Tara and I represent an important model for cross-professional collaboration. The Furnace and Fugue enterprise came out of the efforts and risk-taking of an independent scholar (me) and a tenured professor (Tara) in how we fused together our ideas as well as access to communities and resources in creating this project. Furnace and Fugue also characterizes disciplinary diversity – some of our contributors are institutionally affiliated, others not, yet collectively we show what academe is capable of achieving when we work together. In this, Brown’s institutional support together with the Mellon grant constitutes the project’s glue by providing the necessary opportunity and resources to bring Furnace and Fugue into being and out into the world.

Making this digital edition involved many people and moving parts. It is built upon collaboration between a host of experts: performers; historians of science, music, mathematics, and art; digital humanities scholars; and rare books curators. I created this team while I was a Fellow researching Maier’s Atalanta fugiens at the Science History Institute from 2013-14, and subsequently brought the project to Brown to work with Tara on the production of the digital edition. I am indebted to Ron Brashear, Library Director at the Institute during that time, for his support of my work.

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Furnace & Fugue integrates music, art, history, and science. We designed it as an innovative open-access digital publication that can be used as a multi-disciplinary research resource and flexible teaching tool, and to appeal to non-specialist audiences interested in the subject of alchemy, art, and music. Furnace and Fugue features:
• Fully searchable text in original Latin and German as well as English translation
• High-resolution, zoomable images
• Newly commissioned, manipulable vocal recordings of Atalanta fugiens‘ music
• Downloadable performance edition featuring modernized musical notation
• Multi-functional space allows users to curate and share their own selection and arrangement of images

… stay tuned for the URL from the University of Virginia Press, forthcoming July 2020, that will lead you into the ether where you can explore our digital edition in it fullest interactive form.

Project Atalanta in Action





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