In this extraordinary interpretation of medieval European culture, William Eamon draws on history, theories of the sociology of communication, and literature to show how science derives from magic: the sequence of events that a magical or alchemical experiment involves unfolds in the same way as a scientific test, or even a recipe. The transmission of such knowledge through books, letters, and speech allowed science to grow and to transform the world, drawing Europe from the Dark Ages to the modern era. William Eamon's look at arcane and even forbidden texts will be of special interest to fans of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum.
I am Regents Professor of History and Dean of the Honors College at New Mexico State University, where I have taught history of science and European history for almost 30 years. I’m a specialist in the history of science and medicine in Renaissance Italy and Spain, and most of what I write is about the origins of modern science. I have written and edited 3 books and more than 50 articles, essays, and book chapters. My book, Science and the Secrets of Nature: Books of Secrets in Medieval and Early Modern Culture, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and was the winner of the History Book Award from the American Publishers Association. That book introduced the scholarly world to the “books of secrets” tradition and has received a lot of attention and commentary among historians of science and early modern culture. My most recent book, The Professor of Secrets: Mystery, Medicine and Alchemy in Renaissance Italy, will be published in July 2010. I am currently writing a book about science and everyday life in early modern Europe and have just begun a new book project on discovery and the origins of science.
Haven't read this yet but Preston thought it may be relevant to your work. You might also look at: Tebeaux, Elizabeth. "Books of Secrets - Authors and Their Perception of Audience in Procedure Writing of the English Renaissance." Issues in Writing 3 (1990): 41-67.
and perhaps this dissertation, though not sure if this one is quite what you're after.... Stine, Jennifer. "Opening Closets: The Discovery of Household Medicine in Early Modern England." PhD Thesis, Stanford, 1996.
A lot of this book might be familiar to you if you've read Daston and Park's Wonders and the Order of Nature or Shapin and Schaffer's Leviathan and the Air-Pump, but Eamon puts it all together to create a more coherent narrative between the two works, to which he repeatedly returns. I also liked the scope of his book, looking at natural philosophers, but also at court culture and common people as sources and consumers of knowledge.