Reading Euclid in the early modern world

Research symposium

All Souls College, Oxford: 14–15 December 2017

Euclid's Elements of Geometry was highly visible in early modern culture: a touchstone for mathematical training as well as a spur to new mathematical research throughout the period. In this period dozens of editions of the Elements were printed, and it was certainly the most widely read mathematical book of the time. Different editors made very different choices about the content and layout of the Elements and the other works attributed to Euclid, based on different assumptions about the meaning and authenticity of the texts and their component parts. Likewise, different readers approached the text in very different ways, bringing to it very different assumptions about the use of (printed) texts, and about the kind of text the Elements was and the kind of attention it deserved: logical or philological, geometrical or practical. Many readers annotated the text, and many selected sections for copying into exercise books. During this period, standards of geometrical proof were being actively questioned by mathematicians, but geometrical methods were being deliberately brought into other fields such as medicine, physics, and philosophy.

This workshop will consider the ways early modern people engaged with Euclid's works – from schoolchildren and artisans to teachers and scholars – and attempt to understand their role in their lives and in culture. It will examine the unique cultural position Euclidean geometry occupied and how that position was shaped and maintained.

This workshop is part of an AHRC-funded project on 'Reading Euclid: Euclid's Elements of Geometry in Early Modern Britain'.

The workshop is now fully booked. For any enquiries, please contact enquiries [at]

Confirmed speakers

Philip Beeley  ·  Mattia Brancato  ·  Vincenzo De Risi  ·  Robert Goulding  ·  Laura Kotevska  ·  Catherine Jami  ·  Sebastien Maronne  ·  Yelda Nasifoglu  ·  Paolo Rossini  ·  JB Shank  ·  Kevin Tracey  ·  Gerhard Wiesenfeldt.


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