Dr Georgiana Hedesan


My research comprises the history of alchemy, intellectual history, history of science and medicine, history of esotericism, with a focus on Renaissance and early modern Europe.  I am particularly interested in uncovering the importance of alchemical thought and practice to the pre-modern period. I also have a keen interest in the application of digital humanities to historical research.

My current research is on the topic of universal medicine and prolongation of life amongst medical alchemists of the early modern period, particularly the followers of Theophrastus Paracelsus (1493-1541) and Jan Baptist Van Helmont (1579-1644). I am particularly interested in how these alchemists have framed and justified their search for a supreme panacea and for radical life-extension within the conservative religious and medical framework of their period. The outcome of my ongoing research will be a monograph tentatively entitled The Pursuit of Universal Medicine in Early Modern Europe.

I am also currently editing a collection of essays on the subject of tradition and innovation in Western Esotericism together with Tim Rudbøg, lecturer at University of Copenhagen. This is tentatively entitled The Old in the New: Historical Transformations of Western Esotericism from the Middle Ages to the Present, and will feature articles by major scholars in the field, including Antoine Faivre, Jean-Pierre Brach, Joscelyn Godwin and Jonathan Barry.

Oxford Scientiae

I am the lead convenor of Oxford Scientiae 2016 conference (http://scientiae.co.uk/oxford-2016/). Scientiae is fast becoming the leading conference series on early modern history of science and knowledge. This will be the largest and most prestigious meeting since the establishment of the series in 2012. One day before Scientiae I will also be organising the ‘Alchemy, Universal Medicine and Prolongation of Life’ workshop in Oxford. 

For the past two years I have also been the chief organiser of the Oxford Seminar in the History of Alchemy and Chemistry (Trinity term). I am a member of the Council of the Society of the History of Alchemy and Chemistry (SHAC) and have authored its newsletter Chemical Intelligence until Jun 2015

  • Jan Baptist Van Helmont (1579-1644) et sa réforme alchimique-chrétienne du savoir

  • Theory Choice in the Seventeenth Century: Robert Boyle against the Paracelsian Tria Prima

  • An Alchemical Quest for Universal Knowledge The ‘Christian Philosophy’ of Jan Baptist Van Helmont (1579-1644)

  • More