Remapping natural history in early modern Italy: Antonio Vallisneri's scientific network
Ivano Dal Prete obtained his Ph.D. in 2005 in the History of European Society (University of Verona). In 2005-2008 he was awarded research fellowships by the Institute for the History of Philosophical and Scientific Thinking (CNR-ISPF, Milan), by the University of Eastern Piedmont, and by the Edizione nazionale delle opere di Antonio Vallisneri (Milan). In 2008-2010 he lectured at Yale University in the History of Science and Medicine Program; in 2011-2012 he was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis campus), where he taught graduate and undergraduate courses in the History of Science and Technology program.
Ivano Dal Prete was a visiting student at Northwestern University (2001), attended courses in the history and philosophy of science at the Centre Koyre, Paris (2001, with a scholarship from the University of Verona), and was a fellow of the Acadámie Française de Rome. In his research work, he has collaborated with the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) "Shadyc," Marseille, with the University of Montpellier, with the Centre de Recherche en Histoire des Sciences et des Techniques (CHRST, Paris) and with Stanford University.
His research interests lie in the scientific culture of early modern Europe, with a focus on the Republic of Venice. He is particularly attracted by the interplay of science and art, religion and politics and by the exciting opportunities this field opens to interdisciplinary work. Rather than analyzing scientific controversies among leading intellectuals, he studies practitioners, amateurs, provincial academies and other "minor" actors that made up the social context of early modern science, and participated in its construction.
In 2008 he published the book Scienza e Societa' nel Settecento Veneto, a case study of the interrelations between science and society in the 18th-century Venetian provinces. In line with this approach, Ivano Dal Prete's book explores the physical and social spaces where debates on medicine, electricity, the human generation and the history of the Earth took place, and stresses the relevance of provincial and non-institutional contexts to a broader understanding of Enlightenment culture. More recently, he has studied the debate on the age and history of the Earth in Renaissance Venice, questioning the traditional assumption that the Biblical chronology was rarely challenged before the 18th century. At the Italian Academy, he will study the correspondence of Antonio Vallisneri (physician and naturalist, 1661-1730) to shed light on Italian local scientific networks and on their role in the shaping of early modern natural history.