spider web in sunglight

Spider web bathed in sunset light. Photograph by Chandrasen 31, CC BY-SA 4.0.

sheep wool Icon

Sheep wool felt, https://pixabay.com/photos/sheep-wool-sheep-wool-felt-533756/

Curating Proteins and Fibers

Multidisciplinary approaches in the history of science

Sheep wool felt, https://pixabay.com/photos/sheep-wool-sheep-wool-felt-533756/

A forest of animal fibers

Welcome to our blog “Curating Proteins and Fibers: Toward Multidisciplinary Approaches in the History of Science.” Launched in conjunction with our 2023 reading group on Animal Fibers as Sources of Inquiry as an asynchronous tool for our members (historians of science, archaeologists, museum conservators, artists, anthropologists, and materials scientists), this blog helps us map out a means to study histories of multidisciplinary sciences. Since the process is as important as the end point, our posts will mainly reflect on our discussions as we journey through a metaphorical forest of animal fibers, in response to each reading group meeting. Some posts will lay down our new understandings about proteins or the cultural historical significance of “fibers” (or similar terms) in different regions of the world. The multi-authored blog provides space for speculation and contemplation, in addition to offering information and synthesis—all of which will serve as our bearing points as we as we work through the thicket and bramble and collect scratches and falls and moments of rest and elation.

Blog Entries

No 12
ferrite core memory

Challenging Threads: Weaving Gender and History into the Fabric of Fiber Narratives

How is it possible to reinvent the past of fibers and challenge the classical narrative?

No 11
diagram showing the chemical structure of fiber

Structures, Scaffolding, and Organization: Writing about Fibers

How worthwhile is it to reclaim the concept of “structure” to historicize fibers?

No 10
two illustrations of an amino acid chain, one folded and one unfolded.

Navigating the Concept of Proteins

What can we learn by historicizing the scientific concept of proteins?

No 9
images of four different types of artificial leather

Leather and Its Alternatives: Historical, Technical, and Ethical Perspectives

Historically, what drives the quest for alternatives to leather, an age-old, animal-derived material?

No 8
Dornelas P&F

P&F Working Group Fellowship News!

Good news from the Proteins and Fibers Working Group. Isabela Dornelas was awarded a research fellowship!

No 7
table divided into numbered grids each with a different material in the centre

"Fibers of Existence" Workshop Round-up

How might an approach to fibers as forms—encompassing shapes, sequences, habits, and histories—rather than simply materials drawn from plant, animal, or mineral sources, alter our historical an...

No 6
Our domestic birds; elementary lessons in aviculture, 1913.

Exploring Fibers: Materiality through Theory and Practice

How can examining the historical development of fields focused on materials and materiality provide us with valuable understandings about fibers?

No 5
microscope image of bacteria edited with overlay of protein sequence and mass spec graph

Proteomics: Possibilities and Limitations

Proteomic analysis has been a game changer in the identification of animal fibers, but how can the information gained from its methods be applied?

No 4
caterpillar on someone's hands

Accessing the Umwelt through Poetry

How do we, as humans, gain access to the lived experiences of nonhuman animals?

No 3
scanning electron microscope image of wool fiber

Fiber: An Elastic Concept

How do scientists define fibers, and why does the study of their properties matter for historians of science?

No 2
engraving of spider spinning webs

Between Meaning and Purpose

How should we deal with our own hubris of being human while writing about or with animals that are defined by the potential utility of their fiber?

No 1
A wool felt exhibit, illustrating "mechanical type" felt in some of the many forms in which it appears for use with machinery as a substitute for rubber parts

Past, Present, Future

This year, we are clearing a path through a metaphorical forest of fibers to make sense of how animal fibers matter to different domains of scientific work and intellectual investigation.