I am a historian of plants and their visual and material culture.

My plant-based research interests intersect the history of art, the history of science and technology, the history of the book, and the history of knowledge. Hands-on research and performative methods, such as historical reconstruction and remaking, are instrumental for my work, which often delves into the processes of making and (re)producing images of plants.

I have recently obtained my doctoral degree (December 2023) from Utrecht University. My PhD project investigated the forms of knowledge and the making of seventeenth-century florilegia. The research was funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and received the 2020 Stacy Lloyd III Fellowship for Bibliographic Study from the Oak Spring Garden Foundation. Additionally, I have published on the woodblock making and printing of botanical woodcuts at the early modern Plantin Press. At the moment, I work partially as a researcher on the project BIO&IMAGO at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

My research interests also expand to the historical cultivation and usage of plant materials and horticultural history. I am currently developing a new research project on the cultivation and usage of fruit trees and their fruit and wood in early modern visual and material culture. It focuses on species that were native or naturalized to areas north of the Alps since the Middle Ages, most significantly on apples, pears, and cherries, but also considering plums, apricots, and so on. If you are interested in (fruit) trees, fruits, and/or woods, and would like to discuss potential collaborations, please feel free to get in touch with me at jessiewhchen@gmail.com.

In addition to being a historian, I am a maker of things with a background and training as an illustrator. See Creative Works (external site) for relevant projects.

Jessie Wei-Hsuan Chen
(first name Jessie Wei-Hsuan; last name Chen)