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Teaching through Diagrams

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Galileo’s Dialogo and Discorsi and his Pisan Readers

image of Early Science and Medicine

This contribution examines the role of diagrams in early modern pedagogy. It begins with an analysis of images from the 1632 Dialogo and 1638 Discorsi. I claim that Galileo often employed images in a pedagogical context, illustrating to readers through his dialogue how he may have used images in his own teaching. Building on the work of previous historians, I argue that a classification of Galileo’s images should include not only heuristic images and images used for virtual witnessing, but also pedagogical images designed to illustrate to the reader (or student) how to reach conclusions about a given question. I then turn to the way Galileo’s readers at the University of Pisa employed Galileo’s images in their own teaching. I argue that Galileo’s readers employed his images in their own works in ways which reflected their training and the genre in which they wrote and taught.

Affiliations: 1: University of California, Irvine


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