Completed Research Projects

The Medicine of the Mind and Natural Philosophy in Early Modern England  - a new way of interpreting Francis Bacon

A European Research Council Starting Grant under the European Community’s 7th Framework Programme has been awarded to Dr Guido Giglioni for a project on The Medicine of the Mind and Natural Philosophy in Early Modern England: A New Way of Interpreting Francis Bacon. This five-year research project, which began in December 2009, is being carried out in conjunction with the New Europe College (Colegiul Noua Europă) in Bucharest.

The project focused on an important, but as yet unexplored, intellectual context for Francis Bacon’s philosophy: sixteenth- and seventeenth-century projects for the ‘medicine of the mind’.

The phrase ‘medicine of the mind’ was used by a number of early modern philosophers, theologians, rhetoricians and physicians to refer to a set of practices for training and improving the powers of the mind. Those engaged in disciplines concerned with the medicine of the mind devised methods of training the soul and the body to work together towards the attainment of forms of practical wisdom. Within these disciplines, they provided regimens for living the good life, cures for the passions and methods of controlling one’s own thought, as can be seen in the writings of John Woolton (1535?-1594), John Abernethy (d. 1639), Thomas Rogers (c. 1553-1616), Thomas Wright (c. 1561-1623) and Robert Burton (1577-1640).


More on this project can be found here

Encounters with the Orient in Early Modern European Scholarship (EOS)

“Encounters with the Orient in Early Modern European Scholarship” (EOS): a joint research project, funded by HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area). The project is led by the Centre for the History of Arabic Studies in Europe (CHASE) at the Warburg Institute, London, and it involves six academic and a number of non-academic partners in four European countries.  

The Collaborative Research Project is led by Professor Charles Burnett and Dr Jan Loop, and it aims to document the scholarly encounter with the Orient between 1580 and 1800. It will firstly describe how the exchange of knowledge and of ideas between Europe and the Orient was organised and structured. Secondly, it will follow and compare the conceptual transformations which this encounter has initiated in Biblical studies, the study of religions, in the teaching and learning of Arabic and other Oriental languages, in literature and poetry, and in historical and anthropological thinking. Thridly, it will document the change from a religious to a cultural perspective on Oriental societies. The project will fund a series of conferences, exhibitions and workshops over the three-year period.

more on this project can be found on our website here or at the University of Kent portal here


Aby Warburg: Essays and Lectures

This project, supported by the Thyssen Foundation, was led by Dr Claudia Wedepohl (Warburg Institute) and Professor Michael Diers (Institut für Kunst- und Bildgeschichte, Humboldt Universität Berlin), as editors, with Dr Eckart Marchand (Warburg Institute) as academic assistant. The objective was to prepare an edition of Aby Warburg’s Kleine Schriften und Vorträge (“Essays and Lectures”), prior to publication as Band III.1 of the De Gruyter series: Aby Warburg, Gesammelte Schriften - Studienausgabe (“Collected Writings”), series editors Ulrich Pfisterer, Horst Bredekamp, Michael Diers, Uwe Fleckner and Claudia Wedepohl. Following completion of the two-year project in 2013, the editors' work on the edition continues. The volume will contain more than 30 previously unpublished texts by Aby Warburg, reflecting the breadth of his scholarship. Publication is anticipated in 2019.

Illustration: from Aby Warburg's Kleine Schriften (Warburg Institute Archive, III.120.1.fol. 4)

Warburg / Isidore of Seville     Thyssen

Astrolabes in Medieval Jewish Society

A three-year project on Astrolabes in Medieval Jewish Society, supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (project code AH/1003800/1) began on May 23, 2011, with Charles Burnett as Principal Investigator, Stephen Johnston of the Museum of the History of Science (Oxford University) (formerly Silke Ackermann and the British Museum) as Co-Investigator, and Josefina Rodriguez Arribas as Researcher. This project is being run jointly by the Warburg Institute and the Museum of the History of Science (Oxford University), and will survey on the one hand astrolabes and related instruments made or possessed by Jews in the Middle Ages, and on the other, Hebrew texts on the construction and use of the astrolabe, with the aim of producing a monograph on the place of the astrolabe in medieval Jewish society and an illustrated catalogue of the instruments. 

Click here for more information

Damned in Hell in the Frescoes of Venetian-dominated Crete (13th- 17th centuries)

Frescoes from the island of Crete depicting scenes of Hell and the punishments of the damned are the focus of a new research project led by Angeliki Lymberopoulou, The Open University, UK and Vasiliki Tsamakda, University of Mainz, Germany. The research team aims to place and assess these representations within a wider geographical and cultural context involving both Greek-Orthodox and contemporary western examples (the Balkans, Cyprus, Cappadocia and Italy). The material will be accessible to scholars and will provide a stepping stone for future research in key iconographic subjects for understanding their social and historic context.

Dr Lymberopoulou, Lecturer in Art History, said: “The island of Crete was ruled by the Venetians from 1211 until 1669. This extended period was culturally very prolific and provides one of the most prolonged case-studies in cultural interaction between two different groups – the native Greek Orthodox population and the Venetian colonists. One of the lasting monuments to this thriving era is formed by the surviving churches with fresco decorations. No fewer than 77 of these fresco cycles contain representations of Hell and these will form the basis of our study.”

While customarily depictions of Hell and of the sufferings of the damned form part of the wider context of the Last Judgement, this is not always the case on Crete. Hell and the punishment of sinners can be depicted independently on the island - a fact which underlines the importance that such representations had for patrons and the faithful. Furthermore, the scenes of Hell reflect more than anything the complex interaction between (Byzantine) East and (Venetian) West that took place on Crete during its Venetian occupation, especially since they often include Orthodox as well as western sinners burning in the eternal flames. Therefore, the choice of this iconographic subject carries a wider appeal and interest for cross-cultural studies in general, including the way different cultures influence each other today.

[Dr Angeliki Lymberopoulou was awarded International Network funding of £176,600 from The Leverhulme Trust in July 2010 for 36 months.

Athanasios Semoglou (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece), Annemarie Weyl Carr (Southern Methodist University, USA), Rainer Warland (University of Freiburg, Germany) and Rembrandt Duits (Warburg Institute, UK) are experts on the Balkans, Cyprus, Cappadocia and Italy, respectively. Finally, Charalambos Gasparis (Institute for Byzantine Research, Athens, Greece) and Dionysios Stathakopoulos (King’s College London, UK) will provide the political, social and economic perspective on Crete and the wider Byzantine and post-Byzantine context.]

more on this project


Islam & Tibet: Cultural Interactions (8th-17th centuries)


Although some studies have begun to reveal the political and economic relations between Tibet and the Islamic world, the area of cultural interactions between these two cultures remains virtually unexplored. Initial indications point to the value of exploring these ties. It has become clear that commercial life on the Silk Road involved significant transfers of knowledge. Histories of sciences and of ideas have tended on the whole to treat their subject matters in isolationist terms, discussing ‘Western sciences’, ‘Eastern medicines’, etc., and have neglected fruitful exchanges within Asia, as facilitated by the wide expanse of the Islamic realm, and the well-frequented commercial and pilgrim routes across Central Asia. The transmission of Indian, Persian and Arabic science and philosophy to the West has been well documented. A similar consideration of cultural interactions eastward of the Islamic realm is also due. It is our task, and indeed our responsibility, to revise the inherently Eurocentric approach to the study of the history of sciences and ideas and increase the internationalist points of view. Illuminating points of common heritage between Islam and other cultures may also, in the longer run, assist in creating better understanding in our world today.

If you would like to more in detail about this project please click here

Eton, Eton College Library, MS 178, fol. 1v-2r (Ⓒ Eton College Library)

The Production and Reading of Music Sources

Renaissance sources of polyphonic music not only convey a rich repertoire of some of the most impressive music ever written. From the point of view of their layout or mise-en-page, they are also amongst the most complex books of their time. They typically combine verbal text, musical notation and other graphic devices, and the different voice parts are arranged to be read separately by the performers, yet to be performed simultaneously. As an integral part of the production and use of these books, the mise-en-page thus provides crucial information for the understanding of the repertoire that is transmitted through them. Some sources of polyphonic music (particularly earlier ones) have been examined in detail from this viewpoint, but a unified methodology and a consistent terminology are still lacking.

This AHRC-funded project, a collaboration of  the University of Manchester with Bangor University (School of Music), the University of York (Department of History of Art), the Warburg Institute (School of Advanced Studies, University of London) and the Department of Digital Humanities (King’s College London) presents the first integrated resource for the study of the production and reading of polyphonic music sources from the period c.1480 to c. 1530 in a European context. This will be achieved through a systematic analysis and description of the mise-en-page: the ways in which verbal text, musical notation and other graphic devices interact on the pages of manuscripts and printed editions of that time.

more information can be found on the project site here

Edition of Correspondence

On 21 September 2012 the edition of The Correspondence of Joseph Justus Scaliger (1540-1609) was launched in the Divinity School of the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Professor Anthony Grafton (Princeton) and the publisher Max Engammare (Droz, Geneva) spoke to an audience of scholars about the importance of this publication. Joseph Scaliger was regarded by his contemporaries as the greatest scholar of his day, and the extraordinary range and ambition of his activities is well documented in the correspondence. The new edition contains many letters which have never been printed before. It is a major landmark in modern scholarship on the Renaissance and marks a significant advance in our understanding of the intellectual frontiers of early modern Europe.

More on this project can be found here

Aristotle. print c.1577

Vernacular Aristotelianism in Renaissance Italy, c. 1400-c. 1650

As far as is known, this was the first funded research project world-wide to study the Renaissance diffusion of Aristotelian works in the Italian vernacular. The project ran from October 2010 to January 2014, as a collaboration (funded by an AHRC standard grant, around £500k) between the University of Warwick (Centre for the Study of the Renaissance) and the Warburg Institute in London. This initiative tried to redress the almost exclusive concentration on Latin Aristotelianism among historians of philosophy and ideas in recent decades and provided an electronic census and description of all relevant materials in both manuscript and print. (Click here to access the database and access the census.)

The project brought together historians of language, literature, philosophy, science and culture to explore how Aristotelianism increasingly reached a broad and non-Latinate public. It was led by David Lines (PI, Warwick) together with Simon Gilson (Warwick) and Jill Kraye (The Warburg Institute, London) as Co-Is. The research fellow was Eugenio Refini, and the PhD student was Grace Allen. The project partner was Luca Bianchi (Univ. del Piemonte Orientale, Vercelli).

more on this project can be found here

The Academies Project


Since 2010 the Warburg Institute has been participating to the Academies Project based at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies of Columbia University. This is the first website entirely dedicated to the history of scholarly and artistic academies from the Renaissance onward.

Interdisciplinary by nature, academies were centers of knowledge production and research, and gathering places for erudite thinkers, literati and scientists. The goal of APIA is to organize scattered data about academies, their members and their output; to create a network of scholars and readers; to enhance the contemporary conversation about the significance and continued relevance of academies; and to build on their lively patrimony of intellectual innovation, discovery, and creativity.