11653 - History of Science B

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being Quality education Climate Action Life on land

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Students will be introduced the the main topics concerning the history of science.

Course contents

The course takes place in semester 2 and provides a general introduction to the history of science through an analysis of the transformation of the concepts of natural, preternatural and supernatural in the early modern period. It will explore how the changing nature of these categories and the phenomena inscribed within it had for the emergence of modern science. The course will examine in detail the concepts of natural/artificial, scientific 'facts', experience, observation, interpretation of signs, sensible evidence.

Towards the end of the course we will read together a classic author, in this case Francis Bacon. We will read together and selected passages from other works by Bacon contained in the UTET edition.

Additional information about the course will be communicated here in early January.


L. Daston and K. Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750 (Zone Books, 2001). In Italian or English, as the student prefers.

F. Bacone, Scritti Filosofici, a cura di P. Rossi (UTET, 2009 or earlier editions)

Those not attending classes should also read and prepare the following three essays from the special issue of Quaderni Storici, 108.3 (2001), «Fatti: Storie dell'evidenza empirica»:

L. Daston, «Perché i fatti sono brevi?"» pp. 745-70;

S. de Renzi, «La natura in tribunale. Conoscenze e pratiche medico-legali a Roma nel XVII secolo», pp. 799-822;

And ONE of the following two additional texts:

Carlo M. Cipolla, Cristofano e la peste (Mulino, qualsiasi edizione)


Carlo M. Cipolla, Il pestifero e contagioso morbo. Combattere la peste nell'Italia del Seicento (Mulino, qualsiasi edizione)


Teaching methods

The course will be mainly delivered through lectures, during which the professor will introduce the main texts and concepts of the course. Powerpoint slides and other material that will be used to explicate the material will be made available during the semester. At the end of any class there will be time to ask questions or comment on the material presented in the course.

Assessment methods

The exam consists of an oral interview aimed at assessing the methodological and critical skills acquired during the semester. The examination will focus both on the secondary literature (the text of Daston and Park and the essays in Quaderni Storici), and the primary source (Bacon). The student will be invited to discuss the texts covered during the course and to contextualise them in their historical period. Top marks (28-30) will be given to students who demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the material discussed in class and contained in the texts, critical and analytical skills, and the ability to express ideas and concepts clearly and cogently. Those students who will demonstrate a good knowledge of the material but tend to repeat it mechanically rather than demonstrate full understanding and the ability to build connections and present an argument will be rewarded with average to high marks (23-27). Students who demonstrate superficial knowledge, gaps in preparation, poor critical and analytical skills and difficulties of expression will receive average to low marks (18-22). Severe lacunae in one or more areas listed above could lead to the student repeating the exam.

Teaching tools

powerpoints; links to siti e risorse online

Office hours

See the website of Monica Azzolini