At the crossroads of rhetorical theory and the history of science, Ingenious Ecologies casts a new perspective on the seventeenth-century craze of rhetorical conceits. In a poem, a sermon, or casual conversation, conceits were statements that advanced an argument by means of one or more tropes, which rendered them highly apt at striking wonder at the cost of their logical validity. The book studies a series of how-to manuals on the invention of conceits dating from 1619 to 1654 (mostly by Jesuit or formerly Jesuit authors writing in Italy and Spain) in parallel with contemporary natural philosophical works. It does so by focusing on three seemingly disparate objects—comets, optical devices, and fireflies—that at some point in the story were perceived as counterparts to rhetorical conceits. By adopting a transdisciplinary approach to a phenomenon usually studied within the fields of rhetoric and poetics, I argue that natural philosophers and theorists of the conceit often approached their respective topics through
similar conceptualizations of ingenuity and artifice, a testament to their understanding of a deep and intricate entanglement between natural and human creative forces.