HPST 154/254 | Hist 216/316: When Worlds Collide: The Trial of Galileo

Winter 2000/2001
5 units

Professor Paula Findlen


In 1633 the Italian mathematician and astronmer Galileo Galilei was condemned by the Catholic Church for the heresy of believing the sun to be the center of the Universe. Not until 1992 did the Cathoic Church finally admit that Galileo was right. What were the "crimes" of Galileo? What does this highly publicized event tell us about the long and complex relationship between science and religion? Why has the "Galileo affair" continued to be one of the most discussed episodes in Italian history and history of science? We will examine documents from Galileo's life and trial and related literature on Renaissance Italy in order to create a "microhistory" of this event. We will explore historians' intrepretations of the trial in relation to its documentation. We will discuss the many different histories that can be produced from the historical encounter with a controversial past.

Syllabus Winter 00-01

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