Simon Werrett

Membership:  2011

Member Bio

Simon Werrett is an historian of science with an interest in the long-term historical relationships of the arts and sciences, in particular the ways domestic, artisanal, and industrial skills, techniques, and performances have shaped the development of the sciences. His first book, Fireworks: Pyrotechnic Arts and Sciences in European History (University of Chicago Press, 2010), explored the interactions of pyrotechnic artisans and natural philosophers between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, revealing the geographical variation in relations of science and the arts, and the mutual construction of experimental science and pyrotechnics.
His next project examines exchanges of skills and techniques of repair, re-use, and recycling between urban, domestic, and industrial sites and early modern scientific laboratories. The project will contribute to the history of recycling and material stewardship, and offer new insights into the history and nature of scientific practice.


  • “Science and Recycling in the Long Eighteenth Century” in Recyclage du luxe et du déchet : la seconde vie des objets au XVIIIe siècle, edited by Sophie Vasset, Ariane Fennetaux, and Amélie Junqua, forthcoming.
  • Fireworks: Pyrotechnic Arts and Sciences in European History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.
  • “The Techniques of Innovation: Historical Configurations of Art, Science, and Invention, from Galileo to GPS” in Artists as Inventors: Inventors as Artists, edited by Dieter Daniels and Barbara U. Schmidt,  54-69. Stuttgart: Hatje Cantz, 2008.
  • “The Finest Fireworks in the World:’ Chinese Pyrotechnics in Early Modern Europe” in Variantology 3: On Deep Time Relations of Arts, Sciences and Technologies in China and Elsewhere, edited by Siegfried Zielinski and Eckhard Fuerlus, 17-34. Cologne: Walther Koenig, 2008.
  • “Das Feuer und die Höfe der Spätrenaissance” in Feuer, edited by Bernd Busch, 121-132. Bonn: Kunst- und Austellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 2001.