Jenny Boulboullé

Post-Doctoral Researcher

Universeteit Utrecht

Jenny Boulboullé studied Art History and Roman Languages in Heidelberg, Germany. She continued her studies in Art History and Philosophy in Amsterdam and Maastricht, The Netherlands. Before she came to Columbia University as a Columbia-CHF scholar, she worked as a researcher and research policy advisor at different universities in the Netherlands and at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Jenny Boulboullé’s research focuses on hands-on experiences, practices, materiality, and aesthetics. Her research monograph based on her PhD Thesis “In Touch With Life: Investigating Epistemic Practices in the Life Sciences from a Hands-on Perspective” is currently under review with Duke University Press. Central to her first book is the notion of ‘hands-on’ with which she draws together an argument that threads between seventeenth-century natural philosophy and experimental practices (in particular the anatomical work by René Descartes), laboratory practices in the present-day life sciences, and contemporary artistic practices (Bio Art). Her theoretical framework combines phenomenology, science & technology studies (STS), and historical epistemology to provide the reader with an original investigation into the historical context of Cartesian epistemology, subverting the traditional view of Descartes as a ‘thinker without hands’ and instead placing hands-on experience and aesthetic reflection at the heart of modern epistemology. She has presented her research at several international conferences and colloquia (i.e. HSS 2011, Scientiae 2014, Art and Knowledge in Pre-Modern Europe Max Planck Research Group Colloquium Series 2014).



At Columbia University, Jenny Boulboullé extends her research interests into the pre-modern period. She still holds a fascination for wax and its uses in early modern practices in arts sand medicine. At Columbia’s Center for Science & Society, Jenny participates in Prof. Pamela Smith’s The Making and Knowing Project, a collaboration between Columbia University and the Chemistry Heritage Foundation with partnerships in Germany, the Netherlands and other European Countries. The project focuses on the intersections between craft and science and investigates the epistemological significance of artisanal practices for the rise modern of experimental sciences. In the context of this project Jenny uses experimental reconstructions as a means to study material culture, artisanal practices and art technologies of the pre-modern period. She is especially interested in methodological questions concerning the reconstruction of historical experience. For her next book project on historical reconstructions in arts and science she explores an integrative multi-disciplinary approach combining insights from embodied cognition, ethno-archeology and technical art history.