Joel Klein

Joel Andrew Klein

Edelstein Dissertation Fellow

  • Phone: 215.873.8278
  • Fax: 215.629.5278

My name is Joel Andrew Klein, and I am a Ph.D. candidate (ABD) in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University. I am currently writing my dissertation in Philadelphia at the Chemical Heritage Foundation as an Edelstein fellow. I spent the past year working in Germany via a DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst) grant at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and the Freie Universität in Berlin, and before that, I worked in Leipzig and Halle an der Saale through a Fulbright Grant and an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant

The title of my dissertation is “Chymistry, Corpuscular Medicine, and Controversy: The Ideas and Influence of Daniel Sennert (1572–1637).” Sennert was a professor of medicine at Wittenberg and was one of the first to introduce chymistry into the German academy. His ideas about medicine, chymistry, and atomism had a large influence within Germany and with such later intellectuals as Robert Boyle (1627–1691) and Joachim Jungius (1587–1657). Sennert has been called an archetypical transitional figure, and his ideas and works were some of the driving forces behind the ascendancy of chymistry within the university and in the Scientific Revolution at large, but many aspects of his work have received only scant attention. One particular desideratum is an analysis of Sennert’s medicine. Close attention to Sennert’s texts on medicine, including such early ephemeral works as dissertations and disputations, allows for a study of the interactions among Sennert’s medicine and his experimental chymistry and atomism. I also give special attention to the controversy over atomism that arose in the final years of Sennert’s life when Johann Freitag (1581–1641) brought charges of heresy against the Wittenberg professor for his atomism and other ostensibly blasphemous teachings.

This dissertation thus presents Sennert’s work in a new light, challenges existing notions about early-modern experimentalism and medicine, and historicizes an important controversy in early-modern science.

I have worked as an editorial assistant and laboratory technician for the Chymistry of Isaac Newton Project, where I encoded Newton’s manuscripts and even re-created some of Newton’s actual alchemical experiments. Under Chymistry of Isaac Newton Lab Work, you can see some of the experimental re-creations of Newton’s work that I have performed along with Professor William R. Newman.

I have taught several courses  at Indiana University: X102 Plato to Nato—Science Revolutions, and X123 Sickness and Health—The History of Medicine in the Middle Age and Renaissance. The curriculum of the latter course was fully self-designed.

Brown Bag Lecture Series

Enjoy a bring-your-own brown-bag lunch while listening to CHF scholars share their research.

Fellowships at CHF


CHF’s scholars, who spend anywhere from one to nine months in residence, form a vital part of CHF’s intellectual life.