The Applied Arts of Alchemy

Science History Institute

The Center for Historical Research at the Science History Institute seeks proposals for a two-day virtual symposium.

The historiography of alchemy has significantly expanded over the last decade, demonstrating that its theoretical and practical applications underpinned diverse medical and scientific advances in the early modern period. Alchemy was more than a scholarly, hermetic art—it was a dynamic, entrepreneurial pursuit that supported the rise of the early chemical and medical industries. While attempts to discover the philosophers’ stone were certainly a part of philosophical knowledge, alchemy and its outputs were embedded into European society, from dye-making and distilling to the development of new drugs.

This virtual symposium will explore alchemy’s practical and applied uses and their lasting impact on chemistry, technology, medicine, experimentation, and the marketplace. Through explorations of entrepreneurship, patronage, and commerce, we will examine the place of alchemical knowledge, ingredients, and products in a proto-industrial developing global market.

Virtual panels and workshops will be held May 20–21, 2021, 11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. EDT.

The Call for Proposals is now closed. Successful applicants will be notified in January 2021. More information regarding the schedule and registration will be available by February.

All questions may be sent to

Keynote Speaker

Bruce Moran
University Foundation Professor of History, Emeritus
Editor, Ambix


Michelle DiMeo
Arnold Thackray Director of the Othmer Library, Science History Institute

Lisa Berry Drago
Research Curator, Science History Institute

Megan Piorko
Allington Postdoctoral Fellow, Science History Institute

Daniel Jon Mitchell
Director, Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry, Science History Institute





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Image: The Chemist. Oil on panel by Edward Allan Schmidt, circa 1868–1893. Science History Institute.