News & Notes

Occult Science & Philosophy in the Renaissance

Posted in Exhibitions, Special Collections Tagged with:


Grand Rosicrucian Alchemical Formula, 1678

Since the first book in the series was published in 1997, millions of readers around the world have been captivated by J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels.  A new exhibition at LSU’s Hill Memorial Library (Special Collections), explores the real-life history that inspired Rowling. Occult Science & Philosophy of the Renaissance will be on display in the library’s lecture hall from Jan. 25 through Mar. 6.      

Visitors will be able to view original copies of books printed as early as 1536. Highlights include a 17th-century edition of the works of Geber, the medieval Persian alchemist who is thought to have initiated the search for the “philosopher’s stone.” Other works related to alchemy include Sir Francis Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum and a book published in 1662 by Isaac Newton’s colleague Robert Boyle, who, like Newton, secretly practiced alchemy. William Lilly’s Monarchy or No Monarchy in England introduces visitors to Renaissance astrology and prophecy. Other books explore monsters and magical creatures. A book by Joseph Glanvill, intended to be a “scientific” case history of ghosts and witches, influenced the Puritan minister Cotton Mather, whose Wonders of the Invisible World (1693) was written to justify the Salem witch trials.

A book by the Italian scientist Giambattista della Porta will be of interest to nature lovers. Della Porta’s ideas about plants and astrology were so strange that his books were temporarily banned by the Catholic Inquisition. The Swiss zoologist Konrad Gesner’s Historiae Animalium, published in 1551, contains large woodcuts of various animals, including a unicorn, which was thought to have medicinal value. Two items on display even explore the relationship between Louisiana, pelicans, and a 17th-century secret society called the Order of the Rose Cross.

Special Collections is open Mon.- Fri. from 9-5, Tues. 9-8, and Sat. 9-1. For more information, contact Michael Taylor, Assistant Curator of Books, at (225) 578-6547. This exhibition is being produced in conjunction with a traveling exhibition, Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic and Medicine, sponsored by the National Library of Medicine and on display at LSU’s Middleton Library, also from Jan. 24 to Mar. 6. For information on that exhibit, contact Peggy Chalaron, Education Resources Librarian, at (225) 578-2349.

Exhibitions Coordinator, LSU Libraries Special Collections

Posted in Exhibitions, Special Collections Tagged with:
6 comments on “Occult Science & Philosophy in the Renaissance
  1. That makes a lot of sense I never though that J. K. Rowling got her ideas from these publications thanks will have a read.

  2. I also didn’t knew that about JK Rowling but it’s positive to get inspiration from this kind of books

  3. Conust says:

    ahhhhhh very good, bookmarked 🙂 keep it up, JusyKassy.

  4. Thomas says:

    Very interesting, I didn’t know that about JK Rowling.

  5. Fewo says:

    It is fascinating to see where J.K. Rowling got her inspiration from. But if she got inspired from these old books then many others also might get inspired as well. I was actually also not aware that Isaac Newton secretly practiced alchemy. It seemed that it was widespread even among top scientists.

  6. Sagive says:

    Harry Potter grabbed my heart..
    finally a good dream to dream highly detailed

    i think i might drop by the new exhibition at LSU’s Hill Library

    Thanks 🙂
    Cheers, Sagive

On Display

Made in New Orleans: The Past in Print  –  Main Gallery

John Earle Uhler Papers  –  Reading Room

In the News

Made in New Orleans
“Hill Memorial Library showcases ‘Made in New Orleans: The Past in Print’,” The Daily Reveille

Made in New Orleans
On exhibit: ‘Made in New Orleans’ at LSU Hill Memorial Library, March 19-June 8,” inRegister

Letterform Characters
“Hill Memorial Library exhibit explores history of typeface,”  The Daily Reveille

Through the Valley of Death
“Hill Memorial Library debuts WWI exhibit,” The Daily Reveille

Investigating Sherlock
“LSU’s Hill Memorial hosts Sherlock Holmes exhibit,” The Daily Reveille

Jazz Fest 101: A Showcase of Student Oral History Research
“Hill Memorial Library displays ‘Jazz Fest 101,’ explores festival’s past,” The Daily Reveille

A Voyage to the Floating World: Japanese Illustrated Books and East-West Cultural Exchange in the Nineteenth Century
“On Exhibit: A Voyage to the Floating World,” inRegister

Advancing Scholarship & Learning for 80 Years: LSU Press and The Southern Review
“Hill Memorial Library Displays History of LSU Press, Southern Review,” The Daily Reveille

A la Militaire” – The Battle of New Orleans
“Hill Memorial opens ‘A la Militaire,'” The Daily Reveille

Cooperative Extension at LSU
“AgCenter: Louisiana resource for 100 years,”
The Advertiser

I Remember: An Art Show of Environmental Significance
“Time for oil and gas industry to come to the table on coastal restoration,” BR Business Report

The Relentless Pursuit of “Equal”
“Integration Exhibit Opens,” LSU Daily Reveille

Centuries of Style
“Style Stories,” The Advocate

“Clothing as Social History,”

Of Kin & Cane
LSU Daily Reveille

Blacks in the Red Stick
LSU Daily Reveille

Louisiana for Bibliophiles
The Advocate

Change(less): Photography and the Ephemeral Made Permanent
DIG Magazine

Recent Faculty Publications


Hebert, Andrea. “Information Literacy Skills of First-Year Library and Information Science Graduate Students: An Exploratory Study,” Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Volume 13, Issue 3 (September 2018).

Miller, Marty. “Sacred vs. Profane in The Great War: A Neutral’s Indictment: Louis Raemaekers’s Use of Religious Imagery in Adoration of the Magi and Our Lady of Antwerp.” Catholic Library World, vol. 89, no. 1, Sept. 2018, pp. 20–32.

Wilder, Stanley. “Delayed Retirements and the Youth Movement among ARL Library Professionals,” Research Library Issues, no. 295 (2018).

Ziegler, Scott. “PAL: Toward a Recommendation System for Manuscripts,” Information Technology and Libraries, Vol. 37, No. 3 (2018).


Caminita, C., Cook, M., & Paster, A. (2017). Thirty years of preserving, discovering, and accessing U.S. agricultural information: Past progress and current challenges. Library Trends, 65(3), 293-315.

Dauterive, Sarah, John Bourgeois, & Sarah Simms. “How little is too little? An examination of information literacy instruction duration for freshmen.” Journal of Information Literacy, 11.1 (2017): 204-219.

Fontenot, Mitch; Emily Frank; and Andrea Hebert. “Going Where the Users Are: Three Variations on a Theme,” Louisiana Libraries, Fall 2017.

Johnson, Hayley. “#NoDAPL: Social Media, Empowerment, and Civic Participation at Standing Rock,” Library Trends, Fall 2017.


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