STS Colloquium Nov. 01 Carla Nappi



Please join us next week for the next UBC STS colloquium on Tuesday Nov 1 from 4.30-6 pm in BuTo 1197. Professor Carla Nappi (History Department, UBC) will be giving a talk on “Fictioning the History of Science.”

A note from Professor Nappi:

“You don’t need to read anything in advance of the colloquium, but if you’d like to explore some of the work that I’ll be talking about, you can browse through the Elizabeths project here. I’ll be briefly introducing this work and a new project growing out of documentary misreadings inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses. If we have time I’ll also talk a bit about a collaborative short fiction project inspired by and written in response to Vilém Flusser’s work on gesture. We’ll see how far we get.”



Dr. Carla Nappi

Hi there! I’m the Canada Research Chair in Early Modern Studies and Associate Professor of History. My main research fields are the histories of science and medicine, early modern (Ming-Qing) China, and translation (broadly conceived), and I currently work and teach in Manchu studies. I like to play with conventional forms of historical narrative and to open up and disassemble the basic building blocks of the historian’s craft. I think a lot about how historians create their objects, and what the consequences of a more dynamic understanding of materiality and the ontology of objects might be for practicing the art of history (broadly) and writing histories of translated and multiple objects (specifically).

My first book, The Monkey and the Inkpot: Natural History and its Transformations in Early Modern China (Harvard University Press, 2009), was a study of belief-making in early modern Chinese natural history through the lens of the Bencao gangmu (1596), a compendium of materia medica. My work right now is focused on trying to understand identification, equivalence, sameness, and individuation as historical processes, and does so by looking at translation among words, individuals, materials, and bodies. 

I’m doing this in one book project by excavating the peoples and practices of official translation bureaus in Ming and Qing China, and I’m especially interested in dictionaries and glossaries as literary texts. In another research project I’m looking more specifically at the translation of the natural world (and images and descriptions thereof) in the Qing, with a focus on Manchu texts. In a final very-long-term project, I’m honing in on practices of resemblance and translation in the context of medieval and early modern Chinese-Arabic-Persian exchange.

I also host the New Books in East Asian Studies and New Books in Science, Technology, and Society podcast channels.

Research Interests

Multilingualism and translation in early modern China and beyond
Histories of materiality and material experience
Natural history and medicine in the Ming and Qing
Sound and voice in translation
Manchu history and literature
Storytelling, fiction, history