Recent Ph.D. Dissertations Concerning Alchemy
TITLE White magicians in the English literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance: Divine power and human aspiration (Sir Thomas Malory)
AUTHOR Parker, Joy Ellen;
SCHOOL THE UNIVERSITY OF TOLEDO
ADVISER Riebling, Barbara
SOURCE DAI-A 63/03, p. 956, Sep 2002
SUBJECT LITERATURE, ENGLISH (0593); LITERATURE, MEDIEVAL (0297)
Abstract: While the practice of magic was generally condemned by both religious and political authorities in both the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, historical evidence suggests that reliance on magic was widespread in these times. It is also clear that many of these practitioners considered themselves justified despite official disapproval because they were involved in what we might call "white magic" or "natural magic" though the line between this and what was often referred to as "black magic," "sorcery," "necromancy," or "witchcraft" was often hotly debated. Because ideas about magic were bound up with contemporary religious, social, political, and scientific philosophies, magicians were often central to works of literature in both periods. This study compares the depiction of the white magician in the English literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance in order to illuminate where and how their culture and aesthetics converge and diverge. Chapter One offers a definition of white magic. In general, white magicians sought to elevate their souls through contact with the divine and strove to channel its power in order to do good. Magicians in fact and fiction were influenced by Neoplatonism. Neoplatonist white magicians were interested in exploring the powers of the natural world through astrology, alchemy, and the summoning of spirits. Chapter One argues that the terms "white magic" and "black magic" best express the emphasis authors placed on magicians' intentions and actions. Chapter Two examines Merlin, perhaps the most influential of all magician characters. Through the figure of Merlin, medieval authors struggled with the permeable boundaries of the magical worldview and the right uses of power. Chapter Three examines how Sir Thomas Malory's depiction of magic in <italic> Le Morte D'Arthur</italic> demonstrates that beginning in the later Middle Ages, the definition and understanding of magic changed. A gender divide was created in which women were associated with witchcraft and men with white magic. Chapter Four compares and contrasts the Renaissance characters Friar Bacon, Doctor Faustus, and Prospero, concluding that they embodied their authors' answers to questions about the limits of intellect and ambition and about power and responsibility.PUBLICATION NUMBER AAT 3046009
TITLE: REFLETS DE LA SCIENCE ALCHIMIQUE DE LA RENAISSANCE A LA FIN DU XVIIE SIECLE DANS LES OEUVRES DE RABELAIS, CYRANO DE BERGERAC, BEROALDE DE VERVILLE ET CLOVIS HESTEAU DE NUYSEMENT (FRENCH TEXT, SEVENTEENTH CENTURY, ALCHEMY, FRANCOIS RABELAIS)
AUTHOR: AUGIER, DENIS MARC DEGREE: PH.D. YEAR: 1997 INSTITUTION: INDIANA UNIVERSITY; 0093 ADVISER: Director: ERIC MACPHAIL SOURCE: DAI, VOL. 59-02A, Page 0504, 00315 Pages DESCRIPTORS: LITERATURE, ROMANCE LANGUAGE: French
ABSTRACT: The period from the Renaissance to the end of the XVIIth century is a paradoxical one for the study of alchemy. On one hand it is often seen by specialists of alchemy as a period of decline (especially after the "golden age" of the XIVth and XVth centuries) when alchemy falls into disfavor. But on the other hand it is a period in which one can find, with the utmost clarity, reflections of the alchemical science and its special symbolism in many of the literary masterpieces of the time: the writings of Rabelais (Gargantua, Pantagruel, Le Tiers livre, Le Quart livre and especially Le Cinquiesme livre), of Cyrano de Bergerac (Les Etats et empires de la lune and Les Etats et empires du soleil), of Beroalde de Verville (Le Moyen de parvenir), and the poetical as well as prose works of Clovis Hesteau de Nuysement. The intent of this study is twofold. It begins by discussing the characteristics of alchemical writing to see how hermetic texts function and what literary devices are used in this type of literature. Then it focuses on the work of the aforementioned writers in order to uncover and investigate important references that can be related to alchemy. I compare an alchemical interpretation with the main critical studies and trends regarding these authors and reflect on the role and function of hermetic symbolism and references in works that are fiction and not alchemical treatises. I suggest that during the XVIth and XVIIth centuries the printed book increasingly replaces the oral instruction of alchemy, and that works of fiction become a privileged refuge for hermetic ideas.
ACCESSION NO.: AAG9816858
TITLE: THE ALCHEMY OF IDENTITY: PHARMACY AND THE CHEMICAL REVOLUTION, 1777-1809 (EIGHTEENTH CENTURY, FRANCE)
AUTHOR: SIMON, JONATHAN DEGREE: PH.D. YEAR: 1997 INSTITUTION: UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH; 0178 SOURCE: DAI, VOL. 58-11A, Page 4423, 00300 Pages DESCRIPTORS: HISTORY OF SCIENCE; PHILOSOPHY; HISTORY, EUROPEAN
ABSTRACT: This dissertation reassesses the chemical revolution that occurred in eighteenth-century France from the pharmacists' perspective. I use French pharmacy to place the event in historical context, understanding this revolution as constituted by more than simply a change in theory. The consolidation of a new scientific community of chemists, professing an importantly changed science of chemistry, is elucidated by examining the changing relationship between the communities of pharmacists and chemists across the eighteenth century. This entails an understanding of the chemical revolution that takes into account social and institutional transformations as well as theoretical change, and hence incorporates the reforms brought about during and after the French Revolution. First, I examine the social rise of philosophical chemistry as a scientific pursuit increasingly independent of its practical applications, including pharmacy, and then relate this to the theoretical change brought about by Lavoisier and his oxygenic system of chemistry. Then, I consider the institutional reforms that placed Lavoisier's chemistry in French higher education. During the seventeenth century, chemistry was intimately entwined with pharmacy, and chemical manipulations were primarily intended to enhance the medicinal properties of a substance. An independent philosophical chemistry gained ground during the eighteenth century, and this development culminated in the work of Lavoisier who cast pharmacy out of his chemistry altogether. Fourcroy, one of Lavoisier's disciples, brought the new chemistry to the pharmacists in both his textbooks and his legislation. Under Napoleon, Fourcroy instituted a new system of education for pharmacists that placed a premium on formal scientific education. Fourcroy's successors, Vauquelin and Bouillon-Lagrange, taught the new chemistry to the elite pharmacists in the School of Pharmacy in Paris. These pharmacists also developed new analytical techniques that combined the aims of the new chemistry with traditional pharmaceutical extractive practices. The scientific pharmacist (for example, Pelletier and Caventou) was created, who, although a respected member of the community of pharmacists, helped to define the new chemistry precisely by not being a true chemist.
ACCESSION NO.: AAG9810837
TITLE: THE RAINBOW PORTRAIT AND THE FAERY QUEEN: EMBLEM, IMAGINATION AND THE ARTHURIAN GENTLEMAN (ELIZABETH I, SYMBOLISM, PAINTING, ALCHEMY)
AUTHOR: ROBINSON, ROBERT GIBSON, III DEGREE: PH.D. YEAR: 1997 INSTITUTION: THE LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY AND AGRICULTURAL AND MECHANICAL COL.; 0107 ADVISER: Director: KEVIN L. COPE SOURCE: DAI, VOL. 58-09A, Page 3344, 00137 Pages DESCRIPTORS: FINE ARTS; HISTORY OF SCIENCE; HISTORY, EUROPEAN; LITERATURE, ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This work re-interprets the symbolism of the emblematic "Rainbow" portrait (c. 1600) of Elizabeth I. The traditional title comes from the identification of the rainbow in the portrait as that of Genesis 9:13. In fact, this work demonstrates, it is the philosophers' rainbow, a cryptonym for the colors--black, red, white-- of the three stages of alchemic transmutation: purification, illumination, perfection. Elizabeth is represented as the Faery Queen, the alchemical monarch-- historically the pre-Homeric Hecate--who transmutes not only the brazen world of her subjects but their brassy selves as well. In the text the portrait is therefore designated the "Alchemists' Rainbow" portrait, the AR portrait for convenience. The historical phenomena investigated have suffered cultural amnesia. The most important is a form of Renaissance Platonism hitherto not identified. Neoplatonism occurs in two forms. One is Eratoplatonism focused on love; the other, here called Geoplatonism, is focused on a knowledge or gnosis. The vector of Geoplatonism is Proclus although elements go back to Hesiod and Plato. Central is the function of imagination, the nexus between no-thing and some-thing as is the point in geometry which is location without dimension. The AR portrait is a talismanic emblem meant to function in the world of Elizabeth as does the point in the world of geometry. This hermeneutics is designated copious eclecticism.
ACCESSION NO.: AAG9804054
TITLE: VOICES OF THE TURTLEDOVES: THE MYSTICAL LANGUAGE OF THE EPHRATA CLOISTER (PROTESTANT, CONRAD BEISSEL, ARCHITECTURE, MUSIC, ARTWORK)
AUTHOR: BACH, JEFFREY ALAN DEGREE: PH.D. YEAR: 1997 INSTITUTION: DUKE UNIVERSITY; 0066 ADVISER: Supervisor: DAVID C. STEINMETZ SOURCE: DAI, VOL. 58-07A, Page 2702, 00485 Pages DESCRIPTORS: RELIGION, HISTORY OF; RELIGION, GENERAL; THEOLOGY; ART HISTORY; MUSIC
ABSTRACT: A crucial problem for researching the colonial Ephrata Cloister is interpreting their unique religious language. The Protestant monastic group with married families flourished under Conrad Beissel's leadership from 1730 to 1760. Most earlier studies of Ephrata have dismissed Beissel's religious language as inferior, analyzing only a few documents. This project addresses the problem of Ephrata's language by identifying its religious sources and analyzing ways Beissel and others used it. This dissertation proposes that the Ephrata Cloister developed a unique religious language from familiar devotional sources for seeking their God. This language is the primary approach for interpreting their social organization, ritual life, architecture, art and music. Their religious language features a unique gender concept of an androgynous God. This work will examine printed and manuscript source material by several Ephrata writers, including sermons, letters, poetry, autobiography and polemics. Historic buildings, music books and calligraphy pieces will also be included. The methodology will draw on historical theology as well as some literary and gender theory to explore Ephrata's religious concepts in the context of their time. The results of this research find that Ephrata's mystical language drew on familiar elements from the thought of Jacob Boehme and German Radical Pietists to describe an androgynous God who through Christ and a female counterpart, Sophia, restores a spiritual unity of female and male gender characteristics in an ascetic life of devotion. This study concludes that Ephrata's religious language influenced the organization of their early printed hymnals into guidebooks for mystical life with God. The architecture of Ephrata's monastic buildings expresses some of their religious concerns. Ephrata's style of music and the creation folk art served in part, but not always, as ascetic disciplines for articulating their religious language. Their language for God also drew on arcane disciplines such as alchemy and astrology to express the changes they anticipated in their religious lives. The findings of this research confirm that Ephrata's mystical language, often neglected, is a major interpretive approach for understanding this enigmatic colonial American community.
ACCESSION NO.: AAG1385974
TITLE: THE DESIRES OF REBECCA HORN: ALCHEMY AND THE MECHANICS OF INTERPRETATION
AUTHOR: DUNLOP, DOUGLAS DONALD DEGREE: M.A. YEAR: 1997 INSTITUTION: UNIVERSITY OF NORTH TEXAS; 0158 ADVISER: Major Professor: SUSAN PLATT SOURCE: MAI, VOL. 35-06, Page 1563, 00198 Pages DESCRIPTORS: FINE ARTS; ART HISTORY; RELIGION, GENERAL
ABSTRACT: The purpose of this thesis is to analyze the use of alchemy within the work of Rebecca Horn, to elucidate its presence in her work, and to illuminate its purpose as a personal philosophy and as a creative tool. The use of alchemy within Horn's work occurs as a process of revelation and transformation. Alchemy is revealed as a spiritual philosophy and as an interpretative system through the changes that occur in Horn's oeuvre. Throughout Horn's career, alchemy has developed into an interpretive system, a type of spiritual and cosmic perspective, that allows the artist to study, access, and meld diverse realities (sacred and profane) and diverse social systems (religious and scientific) into a more holistic and spiritually infused reality for herself and society-at-large. The purpose of her work is to help reinvest contemporary life with a spiritual presence by offering a model and a means of bringing the sacred into the profane.
ACCESSION NO.: AAG9709961
TITLE: THE ALCHEMY OF DRAWING: BARTHOLOMAUS SPRANGER AT THE COURT OF RUDOLF II (CZECHOSLOVAKIA)
AUTHOR: METZLER, SALLY ANN DEGREE: PH.D. YEAR: 1997 INSTITUTION: PRINCETON UNIVERSITY; 0181 SOURCE: DAI, VOL. 57-10A, Page 4170, 00639 Pages DESCRIPTORS: ART HISTORY
ABSTRACT: Bartholomaus Spranger (1546-1611), celebrated painter, draughtsman and etcher, imprinted his figural style throughout the courts of Central Europe and beyond. Yet for all of his success, serving illustrious patrons including Pope Pius V, Maximilian II and his son, Rudolf II, many aspects of Spranger's artistic production and ambition remain unclear. Although his paintings have been cogently discussed, and his activity as a court painter assessed, his activity as a draughtsman, indeed the root of his artistic enterprise, has heretofore been neglected. After more than thirty-six years since the completion of the unpublished dissertation of Konrad Oberhuber, Die Stilistische Entwicklung Bartholomaus Sprangers, which examined Spranger's drawings ancillary to his paintings, Spranger as a draughtsman merited reevaluation. This present study initiates the first catalogue raisonne of Spranger's drawings and contributes the first comprehensive study devoted strictly to Spranger's graphic oeuvre. The Alchemy of Draughtsmanship ... engages the drawings of Spranger in not only a stylistic and chronological analysis and discourse, but also reveals the roots of his particular style. Previous discussions of Spranger's artistic background have relied too heavily on the influence of Parmigianino, which only in part accounts for his development. This discussion addresses the problem by introducing the significance and authority of the miniature and monumental modes, distilled through the miniaturist Giulio Clovio and his interpretation of Michelangelo. The catalogue raisonne sorts and codifies the constant characteristics of a Spranger drawing, enumerating standards of authenticity. Numerous incorrect attributions, perpetuated for decades, have been confronted by methodical and protracted comparison with Spranger's entire graphic oeuvre. The catalogue, divided into several sections, also addresses those drawings not by Spranger's hand, although heavily under his influence, thus illuminating Spranger's enormous impact on the arts c. 1600.
ACCESSION NO.: AAG9629490
TITLE: THE ASPIRING ADEPT: ROBERT BOYLE AND HIS ALCHEMICAL QUEST (ALCHEMY, PHILOSOPHER'S STONE, DIALOGUE ON THE TRANSMUTATION AND MELIORATION OF METALS, ENGLAND)
AUTHOR: PRINCIPE, LAWRENCE MICHAEL DEGREE: PH.D. YEAR: 1996 INSTITUTION: THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY; 0098 SOURCE: DAI, VOL. 57-05A, Page 2183, 00724 Pages DESCRIPTORS: HISTORY OF SCIENCE; PHILOSOPHY; THEOLOGY; CHEMISTRY, GENERAL
ABSTRACT: This dissertation deals with the alchemical activities of the English natural philosopher Robert Boyle (1627- 1691). The study begins by setting down a consistent and defensible terminology for discussing a period during which time the words alchemy and chemistry were synonymous. A review of the three centuries of secondary literature on Boyle then reveals how his image has been successively reformed and tailored to fit prevailing apologetic or historiographic programmes, almost always with the effect of modernizing him and his interests and further burying his already obscure alchemical interests. A radically new interpretation of the Sceptical Chymist (1661) is then presented, developed by a newly rigorous reading of the work--together with its 1680 appendix--in terms of its context and sources, and with a much more nuanced appreciation of the competing schools of seventeenth century "chymistry." The work is thus revealed as not critical of the aims or methods of traditional alchemical masters, or adepti, but rather of the "unphilosophical" practice of Paracelsian pharmacists and the systematizing of textbook writers. Boyle's own positive view of transmutational alchemy is then unambiguously presented by a consideration of his "lost" Dialogue on the Transmutation and Melioration of Metals now reconstructed from scattered surviving fragments and presented here in full for the first time. The text shows Boyle's unflinching belief in the reality of the Philosophers' Stone and its powers, and his dissatisfaction with those who denied it. Different kinds of transmutation within traditional alchemy are described, alongside evidence for Boyle's maintenance of these traditional divisions. Boyle's own witness of transmutation is then recounted along with his attempts to contact adepti, thus involving him in a diverse array of social and scientific networks across Europe. Boyle's alchemical programme is next detailed, including his reading and writing of alchemical texts, his adoption of alchemical means of communication (secrecy and allusion), and his experimental attempts to prepare alchemical arcana. In this last regard, his forty-year search for the Philosophical Mercury and its correct manipulation is chronicled. Finally, Boyle's motivations are explored. Boyle's interest in chrysoppoeia was not fueled primarily by the promise of medicines, gold, or new natural philosophical knowledge devolving from the Stone, but rather by his belief that the Stone could function as a medium for facilitating communication with angels and other spirits. As such, it could potentially manifest spirit activity and thus act as a powerful weapon against atheism. This study reveals Boyle as much less of a modern and revolutionary than presentist, positivist, heroic, or even the new sociological schools would have him. Rather, he is here resituated in a complex web of contemporary questions and currents of thought, and involved in the debate of an important question of the day. Alchemy was a chief concern of Robert Boyle and as such it must be fully integrated into our portrayal of him, and by extension, of his time--a critical period in the development of modern science as a whole, and of early modern chemistry in particular. The spiritual functions with which Boyle eventually endowed alchemy promoted it to a central position in his thought as a whole, functioning then as a middle term mediating between his two chief missions--the advancement of natural philosophy and the defense and propagation of Christianity.