Furnace & Fugue

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Furnace and Fugue: A Digital Edition of Michael Maier’s Atalanta fugiens (1618) with Scholarly Commentary (University of Virginia Press, 2020). This born-digital publication is based on my 2013-14 postdoctoral research project about Atalanta fugiens at the Science History Institute.

Emblem 12 - Atalanta fugiens (1618)Atalanta fugiens is a remarkable 17th-century multi-media book by Michael Maier and his paean to wisdom achieved through alchemical arts in music, image, and text.

Furnace and Fugue editors!

I co-edited Furnace & Fugue with Tara Nummedal (Brown, History) and the project was developed by Brown University Library’s Mellon-supported Digital Publications Initiative and published by the University of Virginia Press as an open-access edition.

Tara and I represent an important model for cross-professional collaboration. Furnace & 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 & 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 & Fugue into being. The University of Virginia Press brings our project 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. Special thanks go 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 & 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

The Furnace & Fugue UVAP Book Launch presents a book tour that takes you through the various features, and talks that lift up the hood to show you the making of this project from different perspectives. So, welcome! and enjoy this reimagination of Michael Maier’s remarkable, enigmatic musical alchemical emblem book.

Project Atalanta in Action




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