The Annual Patrides Lecture
The seventeenth-century physician and essayist Thomas Browne is, like many of his English and European contemporaries, confused about what numbers are, how they behave, and what can and cannot be computed with the discipline of mathematics. Taking as its starting point Browne's concerns about the ease with which computational errors may arise and endure in scholarship, this lecture will explore various aspects of Browne's puzzlement over "numerical Characters or characteristical Numbers," including his suspicion of the field of biblical chronology, his concerns about the relative and variable nature of calendrical systems, and above all his perception of the corruptive influence of human error upon mathematical practices.
Professor Jessica Wolfe
Jessica Wolfe is one of the world’s leading authorities on Renaissance literature, and the author of Homer and the Question of Strife from Erasmus to Hobbes (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015). She is what the sixteenth-century polymath Gabriel Harvey would call a “curious universal scholler” of Renaissance culture, with interests ranging from natural philosophy and the occult tradition to the reception of classical literature and philosophy to the history of books and readers, comparative epic, comedy and humour, automata, and miniature things. She is an associate member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Project on The Works of Thomas Browne, based at Queen Mary University in London, in which the University of York is a leading partner.