Introduction includes information about the module's author, an overview, intended audience, suggested use, and learning outcomes of the module.
Unit 1: Investigating Nature
Investigating Nature introduces students to Renaissance conceptions of nature and the wider universe. Unit 1 offers two sub-units: Exotic Flora and Fauna, which surveys how Renaissance naturalists approached nature using both the works of ancient authors and their own direct observations; and Microcosm and Macrocosm, which explores how the thinkers of this period conceived of the relationship between the individual and the cosmos.
Unit 2: How Magic Became Science
How Magic Became Science examines how elements of several magical traditions were borrowed and adapted by Renaissance philosophers as they created what we today recognize as science. Unit 2 provides three sub-units: Magic and Science: A Fine Line; Magic, Empiricism, and the Case of Paracelsus; and Practical Magic: The Alchemies of Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton. These sub-units survey the magical and esoteric elements appropriated by science, the emergence of empiricism as witnessed in the writings of Paracelsus, and the alchemical research undertaken by the acknowledged leaders of the Scientific Revolution.
Unit 3: Magic, Science, and Ethics
Magic, Science, and Ethics explores the simultaneous hope and fear that magic evoked among philosophers, theologians, and the general public. These themes are examined in three sub-units: Utopian Visions: Ethical Uses of Magic and Science; Fragile Reputations: The Trope of the Unethical Magician (and Scientist); and Witchcraft and Science. Using Francis Bacon's The New Atlantis, Christopher Marlowe's Dr. Faustus, and accounts of witchcraft as source materials, these sub-units provide examples of the hopes and anxieties with which magical practitioners often contended.