ONLINE HISTORY COURSE
The Chymical Wedding: Alchemy and Art, Medicine and Magic in the Middle Ages and Renaissance
Alchemy was about much more than the search for the “Philosopher’s Stone” and the secret of transmuting base metals into gold. Alchemists were chemists before there was the modern science of chemistry. Before those medical disciplines had been formalized, alchemists were pharmacologists and toxicologists. They were healers and physicians of both the body and the soul. The alchemical masters viewed the body holistically. They were on a quest to understand the nature of the body and the influences of the natural world (the macrocosm) in the lives of human beings (the microcosm).
The course will start by tracing the origins of alchemical thinking and review the science and philosophy of ancient practitioners (some of whom we know by legend only). Course content will explore how later alchemical masters, such as Paracelsus, contributed to the evolution of alchemy into a holistic model of the nature of the human body. Physicians at this time were trained in the astrological connections to anatomy and medicine. However, this new holistic approach allowed alchemy to contribute to a novel logical framework for both diagnosis and therapy.
Lectures will examine how alchemical practitioners conceived of disease and how they attempted to use alchemy to “transmute” patients back to health. We will trace the roots of modern chemistry and medicine back to their alchemical origins. A selective review of the relevant alchemical literature will be referenced, along with analyses of the many Medieval and Renaissance artworks illustrating alchemical principles.
Jeremy Wasser, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Physiology at Texas A&M University. Dr. Wasser serves as the program leader for study abroad programs in Germany, focused on the history of medicine, providing future doctors and biomedical science researchers with a foundation in physiology and the medical humanities. Along with his scientific publications he has written and lectured on the culture of disease, the history of public health and health policy, the history of human experimentation, and the role of physiological education in contemplative practices. Additionally, Wasser’s training in opera and theatre inform the unique personas that he creates for lectures in the history of medicine and performances related to science and storytelling.
Virtual Classroom: Full access to an online educational platform with discussion forum, videos of recordings, syllabus, and reading list.
Location: LIVE INTERACTIVE ON-LINE HISTORY LECTURES
Readings to be provided to students in PDF format prior to the beginning of course.
Complete syllabus will be provided upon registration.
- ALL LECTURES WILL BE RECORDED AND AVAILABLE FOR VIEWING AT YOUR CONVENIENCE IN OUR VIDEO LIBRARY FOR THE DURATION OF THE COURSE