Item – Thèses Canada

Numéro d'OCLC
Worthen, Shana Sandlin,1975-
The memory of medieval inventions, 1200-1600 :windmills, spectacles, mechanical clocks, and sandglasses.
Ph. D. -- University of Toronto, 2006
Ottawa :Library and Archives Canada = Bibliothèque et Archives Canada,[2007]
4 microfiches
Includes bibliographical references.
Medieval and early modern historical, literary, and art historical sources reveal a great deal about awareness of the recentness of invention. Histories of invention show how much historians knew about the antiquity of the technologies they discussed. Art historical evidence is useful for its attestations to the existence of objects, as well as the information it gives about the symbolic value of technologies. I trace the history of medieval and early modern memory of invention through four case studies, windmills, spectacles, mechanical clocks, and sandglasses. While there was no contemporary awareness of the sandglass' invention, a late thirteenth-century author observes that his contemporaries were working on the development of the mechanical clock. Two early fourteenth century texts note the recentness of spectacles, yet there is no knowledge of their recentness until the beginning of the seventeenth century. The windmill's history is complicated by the way histories of invention were written. Authors, including Giovanni Tortelli and Polydore Vergil, were interested in the first appearance of a given technology. Since watermills substantially predated the invention of windmills, the origin of the watermill sufficed for a history of all mills. Finally, my dissertation uses these case studies to examine Lynn White's influential article "The Iconography of Temperantia and the Virtuousness of Technology" (1962). His article analyzes a striking new iconographic program which developed in mid-fifteenth century France, the "new iconography" of the cardinal and theological virtues. In these images, Temperance is shown with a mechanical clock on her head, spectacles in one hand, a bridle in the other, spurs on her feet, and standing on a windmill. White argued that the new iconography was a conscious praise of new technologies. I argue that his conclusion is improbable, given the antiquity of the bridle, and the way in which contemporary historians of invention were exclusively concerned with the initial instance of a group of objects' invention.