Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

Call for abstracts | Il Saggiatore at 400. An Early Modern Controversy and Its Legacy


Il Saggiatore at 400. An Early Modern Controversy and Its Legacy

edited by Dario Tessicini

Abstract submission deadline: March 31st 2022 

Final version submission deadline for accepted proposals: May 31st 2023.

Publication date: November 2023.
Journal section: Focus [section policies]

2023 marks the four-hundredth anniversary of the publication of Galileo Galilei’s Il Saggiatore (The Assayer), a work on cometary theory that is best known for its controversial scientific claims and for being a turning point in its author’s relations with the Jesuits. Il Saggiatore was published as Galileo’s own contribution (with the aid of members of the Accademia dei Lincei) to the scientific dispute between Mario Guiducci, Galileo’s own pupil, and the Jesuit astronomer Orazio Grassi. In addition to its immediate intellectual and social context, the polemical exchange among Guiducci, Grassi, and Galileo develops themes and arguments that had characterized European cometary debates since the late sixteenth century, including, crucially, the significance of comets for the study of the universe, its order and matter. Famously, Il Saggiatore contains well-known considerations on the telescope, natural philosophy, and matter theory. Galileo’s volume was also the target of at least three anonymous denunciations because of its alleged support of Copernicanism and of atomism.

Despite the wealth of literature on Galileo and the publication of a critical edition of Il Saggiatore in 2005 (ed. by O. Besomi and M. Helbing), many aspects of this volume remain understudied or need to be reconsidered in light of recent research. In order to reignite study of Galileo’s complex work, the journal Galilaeana: Studies in Renaissance and Early Modern Science invites article proposals for a monograph issue on Il Saggiatore and its legacies. Proposals are welcome on any aspect of Il Saggiatore, its intellectual context and its reception. Topics may include, but are by no means restricted to:
- the history of Il Saggiatore, its production and early-modern fortune, including the study of individual copies and marginalia;
- the history of astronomy and of observational techniques, including issues related to the use of the telescope and the parallax method;
- cometary theory and its cosmological consequences;
- the critical reception of Il Saggiatore, particularly studies of twentieth-century historiography.
Prospective contributors should submit 300-word abstracts by 31 March 2022 to Abstracts must include the author’s/co-authors’ name(s), affiliation(s), and email address(es). Finally, a brief CV (maximum of 2 pages) should also be submitted. Proposals will be assessed by the journal’s editorial committee. Selected contributors will be notified by the end of April 2022. It is expected that the deadline for complete article manuscripts will be 31 May 2023. Each manuscript will undergo double-blind peer-review.