Dear all,

Dominique Raynaud got in touch to spread the word about his new book - please all feel free to do the same if you have any new publications out.

Have a nice weekend,



I am pleased to announce a book about the diffusion of optics within the network of medieval universities for inclusion in the HNR Newsletter. The main interests are Science and Technology and Medieval History.
Also note that the Publisher will provide a pdf review copy to potential reviewers.
The following is a summary of the topics:
Optics and the Rise of Perspective. A Study in Network Knowledge Diffusion, Oxford, 2014

Why did linear perspective rise in trecento–quattrocento central Italy rather than in any other cultural context? This book provides new insight into the question of the early Italian pioneership in perspective, building on the fact that many references to optics can be found in Renaissance treatises. The fact that most of the medieval optical manuscripts were written by Franciscan masters — the best known among them being Roger Bacon and John Pecham — suggests the need for a closer look at how the medieval universities (studia generalia) operated. An in-depth study of recruitment highlights the exceptional mobility of masters and lectors throughout Europe. However, through the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the closer a university was to central Italy, the more cosmopolitan it was. This is a result of the topology of the academic network, since cosmopolitanism depends on the studium’s closeness centrality. This is why, through the masters’ mobility, knowledge circulating in the network preferentially flowed into central Italy.

This book is a study of the intellectual context in which perspective came to be a key part of visual representation in Western culture and science. It uses a broad spectrum of methods, ranging from the biographies of university scholars and textual concordance to cross-cultural comparison, advanced network analysis and modelling.

Dominique Raynaud is a sociologist and historian of science who previously trained as an architect. He is the author of many articles and books in the field, among which are L’Hypothèse d’Oxford. Essai sur les origines de la perspective (Paris, 1998), Sociologie des controverses scientifiques (Paris, 2003) and La Sociologie et sa vocation scientifique (Paris, 2006).


List of Tables and Illustrations




1. First Steps Towards Linear Perspective

Assisi's Frescoes Practical and Theoretical Perspective

2. Frescoes' Commissioners

The Minister General The Minister's Academic Training

3. Outline of this Book


CHAPTER 1Perspective and its Optical Backing

1. Insignificant Factors

Third-ranking Factors Second-ranking Factors

2. The Main Factor: Availability of Optics

Classical, Arabic and Latin Optics Optics and the Translatio Studiorum

3. Academic vs. Private Interest in Optics

Optics Outside the Quadrivium Two Testimonies


CHAPTER 2The Axiological Foundations of Perspective

1. Arabic Theoretical Knowledge on Perspective

The Perspective of the Circle Intersecting the Visual Pyramid The Route to the Vanishing Point The Rectilinear Propagation of Light

2. Arabic Disregard for Practical Perspective

The Sociability Factor: Artisans and Scientists The Religious Factor: Presumed Aniconism The Axiological Factor: Overt Antirealism



CHAPTER 3Academic Recruitment and Mobility

1. Optics Diffusion Actors

The Distribution of Manuscripts A Critical Assessment Distributions Compared to Ecclesiastic Institutions Localization of Manuscripts Displaced MSS Undisplaced MSS

2. Mobility and Recruitment of Lectors

The Organization of Studia Generalia Masters and Lectors Estimating Cosmopolitanism

3. Territorial Organization

Studia, Custodies and Provinces Academic Recruitment Pools


CHAPTER 4The Studia Generalia Network

1. A Small World Hypothesis

Devising the Academic Network The Distinctive Properties of Social Networks Modelling the Academic Network

2. Centrality and Cosmopolitanism

1. Degree Centrality 2. Betweenness Centrality 3. Closeness Centrality 4. Constraint and Transitivity 5. The Law of Cosmopolitanism/Closeness

3. Special Communities and Vertices

1. Structural Equivalence 2. Network Hierarchical Clustering 3.  Network Dynamic Partition 4. Reticular Roles


CHAPTER 5Knowledge Diffusion Simulation

1. Diffusion and Social Networks

On Random Modelling Network Simulation

2. University Network Specific Properties

The Distribution of Optical Manuscripts Limits of the Present Analysis

3. General Properties of the University Network

Six Properties Zelanti's Spatial Distribution Neo-Augustinism Spatial Distribution

4. Concluding Remarks on the Diffusion Process

Basic Assumptions Adopters and Critical Mass Laws and Empirical Data Explaining Diffusion Curve Irregularities Discretness of Social Networks Heterogeneity of Social Networks Anisotropy of Social Networks


APPENDIX 1List of OFM University Lectors

1. Lectors at the Studium Oxoniense (1229-1345)

2. Lectors at the Studium Parisiense (1231-1320)

3. Lectors at the Studium Bononiense (1223-1369)


APPENDIX 2List of OFM Universities
APPENDIX 3List of OFM Provinces

1. Provinciale Ordinis Fratrum Minorum Vetustissimus Secundum Codicem Vaticanum Nr. 1960

2. Translation. Register of the Franciscan Provinces From MS. Vatican No. 1960




Index of Names

Subject Index

Wishing you a pleasant reading!
Sincerely yours,
Dominique Raynaud
Université de Grenoble AlpesPhilosophie, Langages & Cognition – PLC EA 3699Bat. ARSH 2Domaine universitaire38040 Grenoble Cedex 9☎︎ +33 (0)4 76 82 58 00