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In the reign of the Sun King Louis XIV, France was greeted by two other celestial bodies – the comets of 1664 and 1680-81. Claire Goldstein, examines the influence of these heavenly wonders on the design of the Royal Observatory and the broader political climate particular to Louis’s reign and the creation of his famous Versailles.

Claire Goldstein is Associate Professor in the Department of French & Italian at the University of California, Davis (USA). Her book Vaux & Versailles: The Appropriations, Erasures and Accidents that made Modern France was published in 2008 through the University of Pennsylvania Press. She is currently at work on a book manuscript entitled Comets in the Sun King’s Cosmos: Circulation and Epistemology in 17th-Century France. This project examines how the last comets before Halley’s organize curiosity, scrutiny, resistance, and doubt regarding the epistemological status of observation, and crystalize alternative (non-official, sometimes contestatory) networks in which information and texts circulate.

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