Living Curiosities: Human Ethnological Exhibition and the Emergence of Ethnology, 1810-1854.
Shocking as it may be to contemporary sensibilities, exhibitions of living foreign, often colonised, peoples were not only common but highly profitable and conventional forms of public entertainment throughout the nineteenth century. My paper examines these ethnological exhibitions in early nineteenth century London. Ethnological shows have often been presented as evidence of racism and agued to be of little scientific significance because of their ephemeral nature and modern association with the spectacular. In contrast to this view, my paper argues that ethnological exhibits were natural historical specimens whose display was not just indicative of nineteenth century racism but proved fundamental to emerging debates on race. I also argue that the shows’ formative importance is contingent upon their ephemerality, since it imbued them with direct contemporary political relevance. For example, during this period many scientists were still debating whether racial groups represented different species or variations of one lineage and thus which racial groups deserved the status of human. In conjunction with these debates many exhibited peoples were dissected, made casts of, shown in private viewings arranged for the learned, described in scientific papers and appeared in the standard texts of the period in attempts to define the physical development of humanity and thus define the biological basis of what it meant to be human or a distinct race. Furthermore, in his 1855 presidential address to the London Ethnological Society (founded 1843) John Conolly lamented that, until recently, “natives…. when brought to our country… have merely [been] regarded as objects of curiosity or of unfruitful wonder.” Conolly called on his fellow men to subject these displays to a more rational gaze. The paper explores this call for rationalisation by tying the popularity of ethnological shows to the institutionalisation of the emerging discipline of ethnology and this its lasting importance for understanding scientific debates on race and the role they played in British imperialism.
Indian Detours of British Geography: Putting James Rennell on the Map.
In the wake of its conquest of Bengal in 1757, the East India Company perceived the need to make an inventory of their newly acquired trade routes, navigable rivers as well as the revenue potential of the land. James Rennell (1742-1830) who, as an ensign in the Royal Navy during the 7-years war had picked up the rudiments of coastal and harbour surveying, and subsequently as an interloper in the South-east Asian country trade had gained a deep knowledge of trade routes, got himself engaged for the task. This paper presents the way Rennell, using his marine and commercial skills, translates indigenous revenue statistics, route tables and accounts of military displacements on the one hand, and the East India Company’s needs on the other, into the “first” unified map of the Indian subcontinent, published in 1783. The publicity given to this achievement was in large part responsible for the co-emergence of the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain and of Rennell as the “father of English Geography”. Through this presentation which is at complete odds with the normal centre-periphery trajectory that underlies most stories of the circulation of science, the paper also engages with current debates on the nature of the encounter and interaction of British and indigenous “information orders” and their contribution to the emergence of metropolitan and colonial scientific institutions.
Circulating manuscripts and the assembly of textual authority in fifteenth century English medicine.
Medical knowledge in late medieval England was predominantly non-literate, but oral forms were neither insulated nor even entirely separate from written medicine. Studying the movement and reproduction of medical texts in fifteenth-century England gives us a window onto cultures within which medical knowledge was created, transferred and appropriated. Books were circulated along clerical networks of communication by literate healers: copies of older or more exotic texts could be bought, trade bridging temporal and geographical gaps; scribes might be employed, or the reader could write out his own. New works were compiled and created. Though they fell within existing genres and corresponded to expected types, the precise nature of a given manuscript depended on the interests of the people who produced it or for whom it was made. Individuals put together tailored packages of textual authority and reference. We can see the alterations copyists made to texts in the three extant versions of a plague treatise by John Malverne, priest and physician to Henry IV. One, entitled ‘On spiritual and corporeal remedies against the plague’, contained a lengthy section on the importance of prayer and confession before detailing the various material and medicinal remedies possible; a second, owned by Henry VI’s physician and Chancellor of the Exchequer, John Somerset, focused on the remedies and omitted almost entirely the ‘spiritual’ discussion; the third version was the longest of all, including several receipts not in the other two. In this paper I use the Malverne treatise and other examples to explore medical cultures of late medieval England through their literary manifestations. Texts had specific roles in medical practices, but their circulation and concomitant alteration provide valuable evidence for the cultures of knowing about healing.
Manufacturing Knowledge: Private Subscription Libraries and Public Erudition.
The purpose of the paper is threefold:
1.) to introduce and contextualize the phenomenon of the private subscription;
2.) to address the nature of collections and organization within the framework
of science and industry; and 3.) to suggest the significance of the libraries
in the organization and dissemination of knowledge in the early 19th century.
This rise of the mercantile class in English industrial cities such as Manchester, Leeds, and Newcastle was accompanied by the appearance (in each of these locations and elsewhere) of private subscription libraries. The Portico library, on which this paper will be focused, played a highly visible role in determining cultural values and ideology in an era that saw an explosion of a new form of “knowledge consumers.” These consumers, which included industrialists, inventors, scientists, physicians, and clerics, were often self-made men who came from modest means. Few of these individuals held degrees and fewer still had access to any substantial collection of books or manuscripts.
To address this situation, groups were formed to initiate private libraries which would not only become repositories of knowledge, but would also serve as centers of commercial and political discourse that were more genteel than the markets fairs, pubs, and coffee houses of the streets. These libraries offered a place where interests in science and technology, to say nothing of the need for readers to “keep up with the times.”
The most significant implication of the Private Library movement, for the present purpose, is the displacement of knowledge from a public sphere to a private one. In other words, these private libraries encapsulated knowledge in relatively controlled spaces for consumption in private. The libraries thus functioned like the center of Bentham’s panopticon. At the core is, of course, is the unobserved reader who not only can scan the material around him anonymously, but can then bring that knowledge to bear in more public spheres. This, in some sense, was the “power” of the private library.
A place that answers questions: primatological field sites and the making of authentic observations.
This paper demonstrates the central importance of the emergence of the field site space to the development of behavioural primatology as a scientific discipline. Initial attempts to shift the study of free-living primates out of the realm of anecdotal natural history and into the world of standardised, quantitative reports of behaviour by importing to the field methodologies and techniques originally developed for use in the laboratory were hampered by the very different conditions that researchers experienced as they themselves moved between the laboratory and the field. This paper analyses the nature of the conflict between ‘field space’ and ‘lab space’ as it was played out within field primatology in the 1950s & 1960s, and examines the way in which the conflict had been resolved by the late 20thC through the development of field methodologies and techniques that, while flavoured by laboratory life, nevertheless are utterly dependent for their deployment on the particular historical, ecological and social characteristics of the field site itself - the place that can answer questions.
Amoebae as exemplar cells: the protean nature of elementary organisms.
Nineteenth century biology saw the intersection of protozoology and early cell biology through the nexus of Darwin’s theory of evolution. As single-celled organisms, Amoebae offered an attractive focus of study for researchers seeking evolutionary relationships between the cells of humans and other animals; their primitive appearance as “naked globs of protoplasm” also made them a favoured model of the ancient ancestor of all living things. Their similarity to the cells of humans and other metazoa made them a popular object of study among morphologists, physiologists, and even those investigating animal behaviour. It was due to their ambiguous nature, not easily fitting into either plant or animal categories and yet resembling the cells of higher animals, that they were able to serve as exemplary cells. The amoeba became a convenient placeholder in biological equations, serving at once as an “elementary organism” and as an analogue of the cellular units of the complex human organism. A close look at the assumptions underlying their status as exemplary cells reveals philosophical assumptions about primitiveness and an evolutionary progress from chaos to order.
Spreading Psychological Knowledge: Top-down, Bottom-up, and Simply Rotating.
The complex reflexive nature of the Psychology’s (the discipline) relationship with its subject matter (psychology) creates a situation in which the creation and dissemination of Psychological knowledge is itself a peculiarly convoluted socio-psychological process. I will attempt to disentangle this by examining the respective circumstances under which Psychological knowledge is (a) disseminated in the ‘top-down’ fashion generally taken (perhaps oversimplistically) to characterise the spread of orthodox scientific knowledge, (b) a more sophisticated formulation and codification of common psychological knowledge and (c) a constantly changing outcome of a reciprocal relationship between psychologists-as-scientists and everybody else (including themselves when out of professional role). It will also be argued that in the last two cases notions of ‘popularisation’ become especially problematical. The paper will use illustrative material from three main areas: British Psychology 1918-1939 - with particular reference to psychoanalysis and the Psychology-religion relationship, Psychology's engagements with ‘race’ issues, and Psychology’s involvements with the military - particularly during the Second World War and early Cold War.
Rider, Robin E.
End Runs and the Publishing of Science.
Over the years scientific authors have devised multiple means to sidestep prerogatives of publishers, scientific institutions, professional bodies, and/or regulatory authorities, in order to reach their intended audience in timely and direct fashion. They have long sought alternatives when the profit-making motives of publishers have proved too constraining, or when normal avenues of scientific publication have slowed the pace, compromised priority claims, or discouraged innovation. In particular, both scientific authors with solid reputations as well as those on the margins have tried self-publishing as an end run around the publishing establishment. This paper uses examples of British and American authors between 1750 and 1850 to explore strategies of (and motives for) self-publishing.
Full steam ahead: failed inventors and entrepreneurial networks in eighteenth-century Europe.
For every successful invention and inventor in eighteenth-century Europe, countless died obscure deaths. By reconstructing the networks within which two such failed inventors operated — both were involved in the promotion of steam engines of their own design in the 1770s — I want to add detail to the richly populated context out of which some of the first ‘heroes’ of the modern industrial age arose.
Roos, Anna Marie
Salient Circulations of Chemical Knowledge and Natural History: Martin Lister (c. 1638-1712), Volatile Salts and Fool’s Gold.
Seventeenth-century physician Martin Lister is best known for his work in natural history and participation in the early Royal Society. However, little attention has been focused upon Lister’s work in chemistry, the most salient examples being his analysis of pyrites or “fools’ gold” near mineral springs in the De Fontibus medicatis Angliae Exercitatio (1684) [Exercises on the healing springs of England], his contributions to the Philosophical Transactions in the 1670s and 1680s, and his unpublished manuscript “A Method for the History of Iron, Imperfect.” He defined pyrites more specifically as “ironstone marcasites” which were “nothing else but a body of iron disguised under a vitriolic varnish”; “vitriol” referred to Iron II sulfate which occurred as a weathering product of pyrites. This paper demonstrates that an understanding of Lister’s work on pyrites and vitriol is best attained by placing him in the intellectual context of the seventeenth-century chemical debate about minerallogenesis. Lister believed that the volatile exhalations of pyrites and its vitriol in the air were important in the transformation of matter, and he subscribed to the sixteenth and seventeenth-century theory of witterung [weathering] or ore exhalations as an explanation for the formation of minerals. Despite his allegiance to the theories of witterung, we will illustrate that Lister made use of his interests in natural history to go one step beyond them, postulating that the sulfurous exhalations from pyrites were responsible for the heating of hot springs, as well as meteorological and geological effects. Lister’s work will also influence the work on lightening by Benjamin Franklin.
What’s in a head? Anthropology and the circulation of “stuffed human heads”.
This paper attempts to explore the interplay between three processes: the formation of anthropological knowledge, the economy of skull circulation both among Europeans and non-Europeans, and Western colonial expansion. It explores these links by discussing the discovery, circulation and anthropological study of New Guinean “stuffed human heads”, between 1870s and 1930s. Eventually collected by explorers and colonial patrol officers, such artefacts of Papuan headhunting soon became an object of desire and research for anthropologists.
Rose, Anne Christina
Late Nineteenth-century French and Italian Psychiatric Case Studies of Childhood Hysteria.
Historical investigations of hysteria have now reached that celebrated mark where their production is labeled an industry unto itself. Up to now, however, “the new hystericism” has not taken up the question of why the symptomology diagnosed as hysteria was applied to children at growing rates over the course of the nineteenth-century. This is unfortunate since juvenile pathology was increasingly recognized as a prosperous field for studying human development in the nineteenth century; thus an historical focus upon hysteria in children can certainly illuminate the development/pathology paradigm. In this paper, I show how the discourse of juvenile hysteria needed to redefine its medical parameters to encompass a variety of psychiatric practices including pedagogical suggestion and hypnotherapy as well as assimilate studies of the pathological dimensions of dreams. This expansion, and the therapeutic innovations it encouraged, created a new identity for the hysterical child, associating it with artistic creativity and psychological moral agency. I trace the emergence of this new identity by analyzing French and Italian case narratives that appeared in printed journals and newsletters. I show how these case studies operated as a means of circulating psychological knowledge within the medical community and I explain how the epistemic relation between psychological theory and psychiatric treatment informed approaches to children’s public health. The published cases I examine constitute an epistemography that historians can exploit to understand not only how observation and experiment were used to objectify children’s psyches, but also how these objectified children experienced institutionalized medical treatment in situ and in relation to their families, their teachers, their schoolmates, and their peers.
Accounting for Productivity: Papermaking in Western Europe and America, 1750-1850.
This essay examines the similarities in the account books developed by master papermakers on both shores of the Atlantic. Accordingly, it is a study in the nature, sources, and meaning of precision. It is also an inquiry into power relations, since the manufacturers intended to take the measure of the men and women who labored in their mills. But this enterprise would prove difficult, for the workers enjoyed elaborate customary control of their toil, a control embedded in their skills. Moreover, paperworkers had labored aggressively to keep their ranks thin, familial, and initiated. So the manufacturers’ use of account books to mathematize production was one salvo in an enduring struggle. It owed less to Foucauldian formulas concerning a newfound attention to the measure and surveillance of abstract biopower, and more to the entrepreneurs’ desire to end an old pattern of long walkouts and short strolls by tramping journeymen. By cobbling together fresh premiums and the “legitimate” custom of the craft, the producers dreamed of keeping skilled hands in their shops and thereby taking advantage of the rising demand for their reams. The new designs for tracking output, then, amounted to a mixture of top-down impositions and negotiated solutions across the Atlantic world. Since these accounting procedures mirrored the transnational practices of management and work in the trade, this paper challenges the assumption that the genesis of modern labor management was uniquely British, or the vector of uniquely British approaches to applied science.
Boundary Expeditions, Geographic Networks, and the Circulation of Knowledge in Eighteenth-Century Amazonia.
This paper will examine a series of maps produced by members of the eighteenth-century Luso-Hispanic Boundary Expeditions (“expediciones de límites”) alongside the instructions written to guide their activities and the narrative accounts penned by the participants themselves. In examining the texts written to accompany these maps, I will attempt to reconstitute the social networks — including indigenous, African, Creole, and European actors — as well as the cultural and scientific practices that allowed for the production of these particular cartographic representations of South America. Attention will be paid to how astronomical observations through instrumental means constituted a particular kind of cartographic praxis that effaced as well as foregrounded specific kinds of information. In particular, I hope to probe the complex relationship between cartographic representation and the emerging ethnographic sciences to better understand how the graticule of longitude and latitude served as a kind of metaphorical fence behind which ideas, information, and whole populations struggled — and ultimately failed — to escape.
Sauter, Michael J.
Clock Watchers and Stargazers: Berlin’s Clocks between Science, the State, and the Public Sphere at the Eighteenth Century’s End.
Using early-modern Berlin’s experience as a backdrop, this paper will argue that time discipline was a product of the emerging eighteenth-century public sphere. Over the course of the century, this public sphere became increasingly interested in getting accurate time from its public clocks, and complained routinely when Berlin’s turret clocks were wrong. In 1787, responding partially to the increase in public interest, the Berlin Academy of Sciences installed an extremely accurate clock over its front door. The public reaction was immediate, as people on the street abandoned their turret clocks and flocked to Berlin’s temple of science to get the public time. The problem, however, was that scientists used a different form of time reckoning than did the public. Scientific time was “mean time,” whereas public time was “true time,” which was based on the sun. Since the Academy clock ran on mean time, it could never be accurate for a public expecting true time, and Berlin’s public now began to complain about the inaccuracy of the Academy’s clock. During the 1790s, a battle emerged between public and scientific definitions of time in Berlin. The public demanded accurate time, but could never seem to find it at the Academy, which meant that public complaints continually percolated upward through the local regime. Eventually, a decision had to be reached in the name of public order. In 1810, the battle was decided in favor of Berlin’s scientists, as the government declared mean time to be Berlin’s time and anointed the Academy clock Berlin’s master clock. This paper will show how the public debate over time was a battle over knowledge’s foundations. Science and the public provided mutually exclusive definitions of time. When the local government chose one form of time over the other, it decided, in effect, what knowledge was. Thus, two factors combined to make modern time discipline possible. First, a critical public sphere had put public time on the public agenda. Second, the state government allied with science to determine what public time would be.
Framing the colonial body - the German doctor as knowledge producer.
My paper reflects upon German colonial discourse on eugenics, including metaphors of the black body and intentions to measure and use the black worker’s body for colonial enterprises (i.e. plantations, railroads, fruit companies). I focus on the medical theories and practices of colonial doctors which aimed to (re)structure and model a racially pure population, providing a healthy ‘indigenous body’ for the settlers’ enterprises. I question the ‘empirical’ basis of that research as well as looking critically at the authoritative language and actions of doctors implementing hygienic discipline in housing and the working process. Quarantine and fumigation of infected areas which are often identified with their inhabitants indicate selective political practices which were medically and scientifically legitimised. The battle against widespread epidemics such as cholera, plague and yellow fever was staged on different levels: a) on a practical, technically motivated level that was concerned with the defending mechanism through special disinfectors and experiments on vaccination, b) on a medical level that differentiated between endogenous inherited epidemics and exogenous ‘imported’ illnesses and c) on a discursive level that mirrors the concepts of framing a colonial body as a cultural-biological entity in contrast to the white mentality in terms of capability and fitness for work. My sources are based on material on Cameroon, Togo and German-Southwestafrica (official medical reports: Medizinalberichte, files of the ‘Reichskolonialamt’, the colonial office in Berlin, letters/memoires of the doctors, journals on Racial Hygiene/Anthropology etc.). Finally I discuss the doctor’s scientific authority concerning their effect on popular knowledge of the colonies and the construction of the ‘other’ in the Wilhelminic Reich and in the aftermath, how popular - racially biased - images were conveyed.
Instruments as cargo in the China trade.
The final years of the eighteenth century saw commercial and political initiatives by British administrators and entrepreneurs to settle trade networks in eastern Asia and the Pacific: these included the Macartney Embassy to the Qing court, and the enterprises of Vancouver’s team in the north Pacific. These enterprises often deployed precision astronomical hardware as commodities of display and cultural authority. The paper tracks some of these devices and the careers of their makers and users. In particular, the pathways of those who moved across, as well as along, imperial routes of trade and warfare help show how scientific hardware could embody a range of different, often conflicting, senses in different cultural sites. These uses are not exhausted by demands of position-finding, though they helped define the positions of those involved in exchange and encounter.
Scientific Servants in the Inter-war Museum.
During the inter-war period, academic historians of science conceived of themselves first and foremost as scientists; nearly all were trained as scientists, and humanists were scarcely to be found. For instance, of the seven founding fathers of the Comité International d’Histoire des Sciences, all but one — Lynn Thorndike — was trained as a scientist, mathematician or physician. Museum practitioners, by contrast, were by and large products of civil or military service. That is, while university-based historians of science considered themselves as humanized scientists, science museum practitioners proffered a model of practitioner identity that valued scientific achievement and military or civil service in equal measures. The nascent American science museum movement, for example, held civil engineer and Deutsches Museum founder Oskar von Miller as its model for practitioner identity and scientific service. Similar notions of scientific service were well-articulated in the Science Museum, London, both in examples provided by senior staff and in policy documents written for their juniors. By both example and decree, science museum officers were intended to occupy a position of scientific service, just as military officers occupied positions of military service. On the one hand, this ideal of scientific service resounded with post-World War I rhetoric of the science museum as a place of public betterment. On the other hand, science museum practitioners’ identities were amplified and, in large part, defined by the audiences they targeted. This paper will trace the origins, workings, and effects of this notion of scientific service among the practitioners and publics of inter-war science museums in both Britain and America.
The Astronomer-Accountant in the 16th Century: A Case Study on Landgraf Wilhelm IV of Hesse-Kassel (1532-1592).
Among historians of astronomy, the reputation of Wilhelm IV rests primarily on his foundation of the Kassel Observatory and his construction of a new star catalogue, which was undertaken with the help of some of the finest instruments then in existence and which had an accuracy of nearly 1 minute of an arc. But while these achievements of Wilhelm have been compared and correlated with general developments in the history of astronomy (most particularly the virtually contemporary work of Tycho Brahe), the considerable non-astronomical context of Wilhelm’s stellar measurements has hitherto seldom been discussed, in spite of some intriguing suggestions made by Bruce Moran more than 20 years ago. Based on the work of Moran and other authors which have focused on the wider activities at early modern European courts, I aim to tie-in Wilhelm`s astronomical ambitions with his own primary function as the reigning prince of Hesse-Kassel. More specifically, I concentrate on the (by the yardsticks of late 16th century Germany) puzzlingly in-depth and quantitative statistical survey of his political territory carried out under Wilhelm’s supervision. I will discuss its local origin as well as some of its unusual features and emphasize the similarities of this statistical survey to the Kassel star catalogue, leading to overall conclusions about the role of astronomy (and the specific conception about the nature of astronomical knowledge) in the life of one of its foremost then practitioners.
What is Special about Surgical knowledge?
Knowledge in surgery has a specific character. Much of surgical knowledge can be characterized as know-how and skill. It is thus a highly personalized form of knowledge which needs direct personal experience to be passed on. This fits in with the persistence and cultivation of apprenticeship patterns in surgical training on all levels. It also accounts for the specific difficulties encountered in standardizing surgical procedures and objectifying the results of surgical treatments. The special character of surgical knowledge can be examined in a number of interesting ways. Thus, one strategy of making surgical knowledge more explicit and accessible is by visualizing it. Therefore visualization plays an enormous role in surgical training, diagnostics, procedural standardization and quality control. Being a skill rather than “pure” knowledge, surgical competence can be conceptualized as embodied knowledge. The way to pick it up is by experiencing it physically rather than appropriating it mentally. Operative skill thus resides as much in the body as in the mind. Since surgery is a tool-based activity, surgical knowledge typically also gets reified into objects. Objects like surgical instruments or implants can be understood as reified surgical knowledge. Another dimension of the reification of surgical knowledge are spatial structures, such as operating rooms, their equipment and their localization in the larger context of hospitals or health centers. Even though the configuration of various types of knowledge is typical of surgery, the underlying issues are by no means specific to this field. Analyzing surgical knowledge and its special features in the proposed way will therefore allow for a more complete view of the circulation of knowledge in general.
Schneider, Daniel W.
Sewage, Science and Control: Science and Labor in the Activated Sludge Process.
This paper examines the circulation of bacterial science amongst scientists, engineers and sewage treatment plant operators. The activated sludge process of sewage treatment, developed by chemists and bacteriologists in 1915 was easily disrupted if operating conditions were not ideal. Scientists soon focused on “process control,” understanding the bacterial processes and seeking ways to maintain them at optimal rates. Bacterial process control quickly became intimately connected to the labor process. Activated sludge required greater skill and scientific knowledge on the part of the plant operators, who were typically drawn from the plumbing and affiliated trades. Scientists developed training programs to teach principles of bacteriology to plant operators, and instituted requirements for licensing of operators. Along with the professionalization of sewage treatment workers came increased control of the labor process. As operators gained experience with the plants, however, they developed their own ways of seeing the bacterial processes that were informed by, yet separate from the scientific and engineering modes.
Scholnick, Robert J.
Blasphemy, Subversion, and Transmutation: “The Vestiges” (1844) Comes to America.
The appearance of the anonymous “Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation” in New York early in 1845 created a sensation. Written we know by Robert Chambers, the volume had been published in London late in 1844--where, of course, it also became the subject of wide-ranging debate. In America as in Britain the religious and clerical authorities united to attempt to destroy a book which they saw as threatening their authority. This paper examines successive American editions of the “Vestiges” as well as newspaper and periodical reviews to consider the ways that a British book published in America revealed fault-lines in American culture. From this perspective, the “Vestiges” was perhaps the most important volume to appear in antebellum America until Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in 1852. Chambers’ volume presents an excellent opportunity to consider the conference theme of “circulating knowledge.” I will argue that Chambers had in mind lessons from the American democratic experiment in writing about transmutation from the bottom up, and so it is to be expected that his accessible, widely popular book would challenge the scientific-theological establishment in America. The paper will conclude with a short discussion of the ways that the “Vestiges” came to inform such central American texts as Whitman’s “Song of Myself.”
‘Experimentalised Theory’: Arnold Sommerfeld and the Old Quantum Theory, 1918-1925.
In 1922 the experimental physicist and Nobel laureate Johannes Stark penned a tract entitled “The Present Day Crisis of German Physics,” in which he attacked modern theory as dogmatic, excessively abstract and insufficiently connected with reality. For all the theater and venom of his attack Stark was undoubtedly responding to real tensions and trends within his discipline. Over time the debate opened up questions concerning two purported oppositions, German and Jewish physics, and experiment and theory, which still configure our understanding of the period (if in very different ways). This paper will take a new look at the nature of the community Stark fought over by arguing for the existence of a viable alternative to the theoretical ‘physics of principles’ espoused by researchers like Planck, Einstein and von Laue in the early development of modern theoretical physics. In the work of Arnold Sommerfeld and his Munich School one can see evidence for a ‘physics of problems’, one where solutions were sought, not in terms of generalities, but in terms of specific, often numerical, results and where the very questions considered often had a practical, even industrial flavour. This paper will pursue the relationship between the ‘physics of problems’ and experimental work in the context of the ‘old’ (i.e. pre-1925) quantum physics. Close and collaborative relationships with experimentalists like Paschen, Back and others helped Sommerfeld produce an experimentalised theory, eschewing model-based generalizations in favour of a series of selection rules gleaned from detailed engagement with swathes of experimental data. Understanding his program offers considerable insight into the practices of theory in the first decades of the twentieth century and will help historians develop new approaches to the discursive divide between experimentalists and theoreticians that looms so large in our understanding of the period.
Shipley, Brian C.
Logan at Joggins: Fieldwork in the Carboniferous between Britain and Canada.
Prior to beginning the Geological Survey of Canada in 1843, William Logan undertook an extensive examination of the renowned 15,000-foot Carboniferous outcrop at Joggins, Nova Scotia. This project had two goals: first, to provide additional confirmation of his theory of the origin of coal, originally developed in South Wales and verified in the coal fields of Pennsylvania during his U.S. trip of 1840-41; and second, to establish a starting point in British North America from which the Carboniferous formations could be traced northwards through New Brunswick up to the Gaspé peninsula, where the survey of Canada proper would begin. The first goal was central to Logan’s reputation and authority as a geologist; the second was crucial to answering the pressing question of whether coal could exist in Canada. Logan’s work at Joggins marked the turning point between his British and Canadian careers. It allowed him to make a personal transition in his fieldwork, moving from familiar to unfamiliar territory, while his decision to publish his results in Canada rather than in Britain indicated a pragmatic reorientation towards new audiences. Nevertheless, although Logan did become the leading Canadian geologist of his generation, it is important to keep the imperial context in view as well, seeing his work as part of a larger project to map the British world and its mineral resources. Nova Scotia, though a small colony, played a significant role as a strategic outpost for British naval and merchant shipping in the North Atlantic throughout the nineteenth century. It was also known to be of unusual geological interest, having already been visited by Charles Lyell on his American voyages. As such, it was the ideal place for Logan to extend his British knowledge of the Carboniferous, and begin his search for Canadian coal.
Silliman, Robert H.
Floods, Ice Floes, or Glaciers: Nova Scotia’s Conflicting Testimony in 19th-Century Interpretations of the Diluvium-Drift.
It is a well known fact that in the historical development of the science of geology exploration and travel have had a central role. The empirical data on which geology rests has had to be gathered--if not in the laboratory--in the field. This has often entailed a search for pertinent rock outcrops located far from home, and, generally, exploration and travel have been indispensable to the comparative assessment of geological structures and processes on which sound theories have been built. Nineteenth-century Nova Scotia presents the interesting case of a “destination” for a string of geological explorers curious to find evidence bearing on one and the same question: what accounts for the extensive surface deposits of unsorted gravel and sand and the numerous traveled boulders found in the higher latitudes of North America? As it turned out, the field evidence of Nova Scotia supported different answers to the question, answers, not surprisingly, in close conformity with the preconceptions the various travelers brought to the peninsula. In this instance travel only confirmed prior beliefs. This paper details and documents the episode, considering how in Nova Scotia Alger and Jackson (1828) found in the diluvium-drift deposits evidence of the Biblical Flood, Lyell (1842) obtained support for his iceberg theory of the drift and Agassiz (1846) found indications of a universal icesheet. Although by 1870 Agassiz’s glacial theory had generally triumphed, well beyond that date Nova Scotia’s celebrated geologist J. W. Dawson was still loyally affirming the iceberg theory of his friend Charles Lyell.
Substance & Vision: Theories of Epidemics as Latent Social Theories.
The success of germ theory over miasmatic theory in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries has frequently been framed through a progress narrative that attributes the rise of germ theory to advances in scientific practice. But numerous historians have observed that the concepts and evidence necessary for a successful theory of germ-borne disease were in place for at least one hundred years before the theory was widely accepted, and here I propose one possible explanation for the apparent “delay”. Abstracted from the biological context of disease, epidemics are fundamentally social concepts—events of social transmission within and across groups. Therefore, even the most medically technical theories about how disease spreads through a community can also be read as latent social theories: cultural artifacts that reflect our most basic ideas about what society is and how it works. The Enlightenment, secularization, and industrialization challenged longstanding assumptions about the individual, the group, and the nature of the bond between them. As the individual and the group were increasingly perceived to be in tension with one another, miasmatic theory (with its emphasis on the inherently group-level threat of toxic air), and germ theory (with its far more individualistic understanding of disease transmission), were pulled to opposite poles. In short, miasmatic theory ceased to be plausible because the social theory implicit in it required a conception of society that was increasingly out of sync with the culture and social structure of late nineteenth century industrialized societies. Specifically, miasmatic theory implied (1) a conception of social space, (2) a style of epistemological focusing, and (3) an understanding of social agency that were fundamentally at odds with (and gradually, less compelling than) those implicit in germ theory.
Singleton, Rivers, Jr.
Disciplinary Origins of Biochemistry, Two Case Studies.
In this paper I will address questions regarding the disciplinary origins of biochemistry in the latter half of the 20th century. I will use case studies that illustrate two divergent paths for the “discipline building” of biochemistry in the United States. One path illustrates the process described by Robert Kohler (From Medical Chemistry to Biochemistry: The Making of a Biomedical Discipline,) who noted that “General biochemistry ... was a broadly biological program, taking as its domain all forms of life,” and “was concerned ultimately with fundamental processes.” This disciplinary vision needed a wider support base than that provided by a physiological or medical service role. Furthermore, Kohler notes that general biochemistry, as a research program, was restricted to a few institutions prior to 1945. The biochemical disciplinary explosion, as a “biomedical discipline” in the 20th century, resulted from a shift in research focus away from topics of clinical interest (i.e. “medical chemists”) to topics of more fundamental biological significance. A case study that supports Kohler’s view is based on an analysis of the Western Reserve University Medical School (WRU) budget. WRU had a Biochemistry Department, focused on research topics of clinical interest, for many years. In 1944, Joseph Wearn, WRU Medical School Dean, created a budget line for a new “Department of Clinical Biochemistry.” The following year he transferred the salary lines for all of the members of the “Biochemistry Department” into this new clinical department. Over the next couple of years Wearn restaffed the “Biochemistry Department” with a new faculty of “modern,” general biochemists, headed by Harland Goff Wood. Another case study seemingly contradicts Kohler’s view; institutionalization of biochemistry at the University of Georgia followed a very different path from that at WRU. The Biochemistry Department at Georgia was created via more public political process. Individuals trained in biochemistry began to join the Georgia Chemistry Department faculty in 1953, and by the early 1960’s a number of individuals - both in Chemistry and elsewhere in the University - disciplinarily identified themselves as “biochemists.” This core of individuals began an institutional and legislative lobbying effort to create a free standing Biochemistry Department at the University in order to “modernize” the institution. A major rationale for state support of such a department was the number of “Benefits to the State of Georgia” that would result from an independent Biochemistry Department. These benefits included training technically competent individuals, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, for employment in Georgia pharmaceutical and similar industries. An important but “intangible” benefit was the “prestige” that would be associated with an academic institution having a modern scientific program like “biochemistry.”
Competing Knowledges?: Indigenous Views of Geography, British Engineering and the Conquest of the Kandyan Hills of Ceylon.
While the Kandyan mountains remained inaccessible to British control in Ceylon they were cast as the home of impenetrable jungles. Local peoples circulated tales of the geography of the interior in order to resist European encroachment, and local knowledge about topography was also vital in Kandyan warfare. Between 1800-1810, however, British officers were able to secure local guides, and they appropriated indigenous knowledge pertaining to the lay of the land. By 1815, the mountains had fallen to British control and the Kandyans were paraded as barbarous; their knowledge was now said to stand apart from the achievements of British surveyors and cartographers who had been so crucial in securing the mountains. In the two decades that followed what was said by one Governor to be the greatest testimony to British science in Ceylon -a military road connecting the seaside capital of Colombo with the seat of Kandyan power was built. Surveyors were employed to trace the line of the road and local peoples were forced to labour in making it.
By attending this closely to the circulation of geographical information between Ceylonese and Britons it is possible to chart the fall of Kandyan power and the consolidation of British control. The possession of geographical knowledge was crucial therefore to imperialism; and its application in works of engineering could result in the subjugation of the colonised. This is therefore an attempt to elucidate the competitions and exchanges between different genres of geographical knowledge that occurred in the process of colonialism.
Robert Stawell Ball was one of the most prolific authors of popular astronomy in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. After positions at the Royal College of Science in Dublin and the Dunsink Observatory, Ball became Lowndean Professor of Astronomy and Geometry, as well as Director of the University Observatory, at Cambridge in 1892. By this point he had already published several books and more followed in a steady stream until his death in 1913. During his career he also gave many hundreds of public lectures. In this paper I will both examine and attempt to unpack the goals behind Ball’s approaches to presenting astronomy for broad audiences, particularly his use of history and the ways in which he avoided offering dissenting opinions on various topics (even highly controversial ones such as the canals of Mars). In so doing, I seek to draw contrasts between Ball and the efforts of other populariziers of the period such as Agnes Clerke and T.W. Webb.
Isaac Newton, Pythagorean style and the esoteric/exoteric divide.
It is well known that Newton deliberately wrote his Principia in an obscure and difficult style. Recent comparisons of Newton’s public texts with those that he confined to the private sphere help reveal that the writings he intended for public consumption were composed in such a way that they restrict access to their meaning, marginalising less competent and less well-informed readers. This paper uses Newton’s more open private papers, along with statements he made about his writing strategies, to demonstrate that Newton was committed to an esoteric/exoteric intellectual divide and that his chief goal was to reach the privileged cognoscenti not only through his carefully-crafted publications, but also through private cabals, master-disciple relationships and the controlled distribution of his scribal publications. Additionally, by assessing Newton's discussions of ancient writing and communication styles, including esoteric and encoding styles that he attributes to the ancient Hebrew Prophets and the Pythagoreans, examples that Newton sees as prescriptive, this paper emphasises the great distance between Newton’s natural philosophical ethos and the sensibilities of modern science (which are so often attributed to him). Finally, this paper shows that Newton’s commitment to the esoteric/exoteric divide applies across the range of his intellectual endeavour, including his mathematics, natural philosophy, alchemy, theology and prophetic writings, thus providing another instance of the unity of Newton’s thought.
Model Skulls and Healthy Houses: Popular Science and Domestic Architecture in Mid-Nineteenth Century America.
This paper examines the transmission of mid-nineteenth century racial theory to American domestic architecture, using Orson Squire Fowler’s pattern book for the octagonal Home for All (1848) as a case study. Fowler, whose book spurred the construction of nearly 1000 octagon houses across the United States, was best-known as a promoter of popular phrenology. Fowler proposed that the act of building single-family houses was an innate urge, pinpointing the location of this trait within his model of the phrenological brain. Fowler’s phrenology laid the groundwork for the popular acceptance of eugenic theory in the United States. As a phrenologist, Fowler encouraged Americans to rank and classify themselves according to their ethnicity and the shape of their skulls. According to Fowler, the octagon house was the architectural equivalent of the skull, and its endowments could be similarly interpreted to reflect the value of its interior life. Fowler popularized the belief that superior people built superior houses, drawing an indelible connection between house, head and heritable traits. The spread of octagon house across the North American landscape is evidence of the pervasiveness of his theories in domestic architecture. Fowler’s conception of the home as the embodiment of phrenological values demonstrates the cross-fertilization of ideas between popular science and domestic architecture.
A Lady Comes of Age: Do Modern Science Projects Produce Definitive Reports?
The paper addresses epistemological questions in the context of the recent re-excavation of Paviland Cave, South Wales, under the archaeologist Stephen Aldhouse-Green of the University of Wales College. In 1823, the geologist William Buckland had discovered a partial human skeleton in the cave, which acquired the name the Red Lady. Starting out as Ancient British witch or prostitute, the Red Lady made it into the ranks of the male Cro-Magnon warriors and into the most refined circles of prehistoric evidence. The international and interdisciplinary project that began in 1995 culminated in the monograph Paviland Cave and the ‘Red Lady’: A Definitive Report (2000). Apart from contributions by experts from various scientific (sub-)disciplines, it contains a historical overview of the successive excavations and interpretations. This model scientific project raises the following questions: what do we gain by approaching the mysteries of our prehistory from the points of view of many disciplines, including the humanities, and of scholars of various national and cultural backgrounds? And, do such projects produce definitive reports? Apart from highlighting our desire for completeness, the claim to have written the final chapter in the biography of the Red Lady opens up further avenues for inquiry. For example, where does narrative still fill evidential gaps? This question might best be approached through the reconstructions of the Red Lady’s burial that were part of an exhibit at the National Museum of Wales and the ensuing monograph, as spaces of encounter between science and the public that encompass transformations of abstract ideas into three-dimensional dioramas.
Spencer, Larry T.
J. Roger Bray and some historical aspects of Plant Ecology in New Zealand.
Botanically, the first knowledge of the flora of New Zealand was brought to light by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander botanists/naturalists on board the Endeavour when Capt. James Cook explored the Pacific Ocean in 1766-1771. About two hundred years later (1963) J. Roger Bray arrived in New Zealand. Bray, co-author with John Curtis of a classic paper on the use of ordination in ecology, was philosophically opposed to the use of atomic energy in the United States and had migrated to New Zealand because of that country’s policy towards atomic energy. In this paper I will briefly discuss the state of plant ecology in New Zealand at the time of his arrival and describe the contributions that Bray has made both to the development of ecology in New Zealand and to the development of ecological thought in general.
The Co-creation of Classical and Modern Physics.
Among the many tensions and oppositions that were in play in the early twentieth century, one the divide between classical and modern physics has retrospectively overshadowed our understandings of the period. This paper offers an empirical and comparative study of when and why physicists in different nations (Germany, France and Britain) first started using these terms. Beginning with Boltzmann and ending with the 1911 Solvay Congress, on a broad scale this story constitutes one of the most powerful instances of the circulation of a rich cultural image. First developed in understandings of literature, music, art and schooling, within the physics community the concept of the classical came to be invested with a highly specific meaning of great scope and this in turn formed the basis for the widespread popularization of a new physical world view after World War I. But on a finer scale, charting the means by which this particular understanding came to dominate discourse on the period reveals significant tussles over the meaning of specific entities, different intellectual tools, and disciplinary histories. As physicists like Larmor, Poincaré, Lorentz, Planck and Einstein sought ways to cross the divide between the macro-world and an emerging microphysics, the specific reach of atoms and electrons, theory and experiment, the electromagnetic field, new physical constants, and statistical mechanics were all at issue. Understanding the grasp and limitations of such tools both involved physicists in a search for unity, and created new fissures within their community.
Stam, Henderikus J., and René Van Hezewijk
Phenomenological Psychology in Europe and North America: The case of Johannes Linschoten and the demise of the ‘Utrecht School.’
Prior to and immediately following WW II a loose movement within Dutch psychology, led by Frederick Buytendijk, eventually solidified as a nascent phenomenological psychology. Supported by German, Belgian and French colleagues, Dutch phenomenological psychologists and criminologists attempted to generate an understanding of psychology that was based on interpretations of phenomenological philosophy, largely Husserlian in inspiration. Although never widely accepted, this movement came to a sudden halt in the 1960s even though it was exported to North America and elsewhere as ‘Phenomenological Psychology.’ Frequently referred to as the ‘Utrecht School,’ most of the activity of the group was centered on Utrecht University although it was less a school than a group of loosely affiliated individuals. In this paper we examine the role played by Johannes Linschoten in both aspects of the development of a phenomenological psychology: its rise in North America and Europe, and its institutional demise. Linschoten was Buytendijk’s most prominent student and succeeded to the latter’s chair upon Buytendijk’s retirement in 1957. By the time of his early death in 1964, Linschoten had cast considerable doubt on the possibilities of a pure phenomenological psychology. Nonetheless, his empirical work can be seen to be a form of empirical psychology that was inspired by phenomenology but that clearly distanced itself from the more elitist and esoteric aspects of Dutch phenomenological psychology.
Physics, Marxism, and Mysticism: Politics and Religion in the Reception of Eddington’s Science Popularizations.
In the 1920s and 1930s A.S. Eddington was one of the best known scientific figures in the English speaking world, largely due to his extremely popular books, lectures, and radio addresses on the physical sciences. In these popularizations Eddington made sophisticated arguments about the positivist nature of modern physics and how that had important implications for the domain of science. His discussions of mysticism, free-will, and determinism caught the public’s attention, and his work was quickly integrated into contemporary British debates regarding religion and politics. This paper explores a print debate between Eddington and the influential atheist and Marxist Chapman Cohen, which focused on Eddington’s Gifford Lectures. Their exchanges help illustrate the way religion, politics, and science were blended together in social debates in interwar Britain, and specifically how determinism was a major and controversial point of intersection for these three categories.
The Insurrection of Nature: The Problem of Science in German Idealism.
At the end of the eighteenth century, the term Wissenschaft was widely used in German language publications to depict scientific or systematic knowledge, of which natural science or natural philosophy was one part. German idealism is often represented as aspiring to a scientific system of knowledge that resolves all into reason. But Kant’s critical philosophy was concerned with the perspective of finite human cognition. His ‘Copernican Revolution’ removed the human being from its position of the sun or God, where it had rested in previous metaphysical systems, and placed it in the position of the earth, attempting to study the world from its limited perspective within the world. In particular, human cognition was limited by sensory intuition and the problematic yet necessary relation of reason to phenomena opposed to itself. The philosophic systems of Fichte and Schelling continued to face the problem of reflexivity, of trying to build scientific or systematic knowledge of the world by looking at the world from within the world. As a result, one field of knowledge was used to critically examine another; thus if philosophy provided a critical examination of art, art in turn provided the means for a critique of philosophy, and both provided a critical examination of natural science. Natural phenomena also continued to have a significant but problematic place in the system of knowledge, as necessary to cognition, indeed even self-cognition, but opposed to reason and not resolvable into reason. Organic phenomena in particular defied systematic placement in the science of knowledge. Organized and self-organizing systems were phenomena for which no determinate concepts were available and whose placement in relation to other natural sciences was unclear and shifting at the time. It thus acted to destabilize the system of knowledge. This paper will look at the problematic place of organic phenomena in German Wissenschaft at the turn of the nineteenth century.
Mammal and Bird Collections made by Titian Peale during the United States Exploring Expedition of 1838-1842, and the Fate of his Published Account.
Titian Peale (1799-1885) was the self-trained artist-naturalist son of the Philadelphia artist and pioneering museum impresario Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827). The younger Peale was one of a group of “scientifics” who spent several years in the Pacific region as a member of the United States Exploring Expedition of 1838-1842, otherwise known as the Wilkes Expedition after its commander, Navy Captain Charles Wilkes (1798-1877). Peale’s collection of wildlife from the Pacific, Antarctic and Southeast Asia were among the many tons of unanticipated biological and anthropological materials which this government-sponsored enterprise sent or brought back to Washington prior to the establishment of the Smithsonian Institution in 1846. This paper describes what became of Peale’s collections, Peale’s efforts to publish Mammalia and Ornithology, his book about the mammals and birds he collected while with the expedition, the influential scientists who opposed its publication, and the actions of Wilkes--acting for a parsimonious U.S. Congress--which finally led to the suppression of Peale’s book. This unfortunate outcome came about at a time when the era of the old-fashioned artist-naturalist was giving way to the beginnings of modern scientific zoology.
Knowledge Circulation and William Gilbert’s A New Philosophy Concerning our Sublunary World.
William Gilbert’s On the magnet (London, 1600), now a canonical text in the history of science as the beginning of ‘experimental philosophy’, represents an ambitious effort to bring together in a new way various communities of readerships, practices and communities of knowledge. It is, in that sense, relatively outward looking in terms both of its application and its audience in the wider world. But his posthumously published A new philosophy concerning our sublunary world (Amsterdam, 1651) represents, relatively speaking, much more the work of a private scholar, with a large stack of books ready to hand, writing for those concerned with a textual, scholarly refutation of Aristotelian orthodoxy. In this sense A new philosophy represents a different and more established modality of knowledge circulation than On the magnet. This mode is defined by the standards of scholarly exchange, standards themselves undergoing gradual transformation in the face of new knowledge and new contexts of knowledge exchange. It also was ‘experimental’ and ‘new’, but in the sense of synthesising textual sources, concepts, arguments and observations--natural historical, philosophical, astronomical and medical—from both past and contemporary authors.
It is here that A new philosophy was challenged by--and itself challenged--a different kind of incoherence, as judged by a different modality of knowledge circulation than is the case for the On the magnet. Here, the reconciliation of different authorities and their claims to natural knowledge, rather than the problem of single authorship is at stake. By comparing A new philosophy to On the magnet in this regard, my paper will address the still-puzzling question of the emergence of the (then) rather odd form of natural philosophical literature in the early-modern period: experimental philosophy.
Manufacturing Enlightenment : the factory and the laboratory at the end of the eighteenth century.
This paper explores the nature of experimental practice and the promotion of an industrial enlightenment at the end of the eighteenth century. Numerous promoters of the public world of natural philosophy in the eighteenth century, from Desaguliers to Nollet, expropriated experimentalism in careers given over to philosophical and instrumental demonstration. The purpose of such displays was, much like Diderot’s much praised Encyclopedie, the wide expansion of philosophical as well as technical and instrumental knowledge. The world of the public lecturer has been the subject of some recent discussion, most notably the degree to which it might have had some influence on the spread of natural and experimental philosophy amongst a wide audience. This was especially important among those who were mechanically inclined and especially adept at the promotion of industrial enterprises in the last half of the century.
Theory and practice have often been regarded by historians as existing on opposite sides of a divide which was, at least in the eighteenth century, much lamented. With Nollet’s Lecons de physque experimentale and L’art des experiences, ou avis auz amateurs de la physique as the backdrop, this paper will examine the world of experimental practice amongst industrialists in Britain. Focussing on the laboratory experience of James Watt and Josiah Wedgwood, the paper set out to explore the daily life of the laboratory, the instrumental world of the experimentalist and the aims, utilitarian and otherwise, which drove them. Particular focus will be on the wide range of experiments, notably in chemistry and metallurgy, based on a highly sophisticated knowledge of the chemical and theoretical debates which consumed the late eighteenth century. Thus, in the daily life of the laboratory were found the connections between theory and practice that have recently been ignored.
From bedside to bench and back: cases, programmes, and the cycle of scientific knowledge production in Edinburgh medicine, 1880-1920.
Post-Kuhnian historians of science have tended to regard research programmes as the principle units of modern scientific knowledge production, and have stressed in particular the role of disciplinary social institutions -- notably research schools and scientific disciplines -- in maintain the theory- and method- led character of such programmes. Recently, however, historians of medical science and scientific medicine have begun to recognise that knowledge was also produced in social and intellectual settings that do not conform to this model of programmatic research. The present paper examines such a case. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, much scientific activity in the Edinburgh medical school centred on the field of pathology. Socially, this activity was only loosely disciplinary in character, involving shifting collaborations between academic scientists and practising clinicians who drew on a broad range of theoretical and methodological resources to further their investigations. And intellectually, it was driven as much by problems arising in clinical practice -- cases -- as by programmatic commitments to particular theories or methods. The knowledge produced was also diverse: it included contributions to general pathological theory; but these in turn were used to elucidate the peculiarities of individual cases. This paper examines how cases were conceptualised in this setting, emphasising the circulation of knowledge from cases to theoretical generalisations and back. It concludes that the work of scientific knowledge production in Edinburgh represents a quite distinct “epistemic culture”, to borrow Karin Knorr-Cetina’s terms, from the kind of research programmes that have hitherto preoccupied historians of science.
Dissemination and reception of scientific approaches in the British brewing industry.
Natural-philosophical concepts and apparatus first infiltrated the British brewery around the middle of the eighteenth century; by the close of the nineteenth, chemical and microbiological training were virtually prerequisites for entry to the brewing profession. In this paper, I examine this development as a case of a traditional ‘craft,’ already possessing some technological complexity, accommodating itself to the unfamiliar tenets of speculative theory and experimentation. My study proceeds largely from the manuals and treatises by which those brewers who characterised themselves as ‘scientific’ disseminated their ideas: the development of shared social spaces meant that brewers came increasingly into contact with natural philosophers, and several early texts were written in imitation of the model of the philosophical treatise, often introducing speculations of their own. The ‘scientific’ brewers soon discovered, however, that their ideas would proliferate only with the aid of careful appeals to their more traditional fellows’ established norms; the brewery as a whole did not straightforwardly accept as necessarily valid the discoveries and underlying ideals of ‘science,’ but frequently adapted them to suit its own technological and cultural imperatives, and were constantly mindful of the option of ignoring them outright. The ultimate emergence of ‘brewing science’ as a discipline embodying the shared values of the academic sciences, I argue, cannot be explained purely in terms of the exhortations of the ‘scientific’ brewers, but has as much to do with the efforts of chemists, public analysts and other outside groups, towards the end of the nineteenth century, to secure this and other manufactures under their scrutiny and control.
All in a Day’s Work: Réaumur and Natural History in the Enlightenment.
The French naturalist René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur is known today primarily for his hostility to Buffon’s version of natural history, and perhaps for his obsession with insects. This paper uses Réaumur’s extensive correspondence with a far-flung network of correspondents, readers, and collaborators to draw a more nuanced picture of the practice of natural history in the middle decades of the 18th century. This picture includes experimentation with animal breeding (especially chickens) as well as microscopy, dissection, collection, taxidermy, correspondence, drawing, and the production of books. I look at method (and the contrast between Réaumur’s methods and those of Buffon), but more especially the way that naturalists of various stripes conceived of their work and talked about it with each other. Ultimately, I address the question of the relationship of experimentation to theories of generation.
A square circle: authors, writers and readers of late medieval alchemical poetry.
‘Keepe this booke frome euil persones’ — written on the flyleaf of an alchemical manuscript half a millennium ago, this warning indicates a central issue in the history of alchemy: the discrepancy between an alchemist writer’s anticipated or desired readership and the actual reception of late medieval alchemica. The diversity of contexts for and readings of alchemical documents in the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries opens up questions about the concepts of authenticity and authoritativeness. Any attempt to give a coherent account of an alchemical text and its dissemination would therefore, as I shall argue, be squaring the circle of its readers indeed. The alchemical poem Verses upon the Elixir will serve as an example of the role of written traditions in the history of alchemy. Written in the late 1400s, the Verses were copied, modified, re-worked and read in the following three centuries. All relevant manuscripts show signs of scribal creativity, and some contain an unusually wide range of early readers’ notes and comments. Furthermore their places within manuscript collections indicate the copies’ position within the corpus of alchemica at different times; for example, the texts appear several times in the library of John Dee, the infamous sixteenth-century court astrologer and magician. An analysis of these materials will show the interactions between writing, the text’s history and also the historiography of alchemy — some modern scholars, misreading or interpreting medieval texts, may be considered the most recent addition to the group of ‘euil persones’ already feared a few centuries ago.
Profiles in Science: A Tool for Educators in History of Science and Medicine.
With its combination of primary historical documents and expert narratives, the National Library of Medicine’s Profiles in Science at www.profiles.nlm.nih.gov, presents web sites on the life and work of prominent men and women in biomedical research, public health, and health advocacy. The sites give access to digital facsimiles of important print and manuscript materials. They set these primary materials within an accompanying historical narrative. Together, these features make the sites natural tools for educators in the history of science and medicine. The sites include such figures as Nobel Prize winners Joshua Lederberg, Marshall Nirenberg, and Linus Pauling, leaders of women in science and medicine such as Barbara McClintock and Florence Sabin, and international health workers such as Fred Soper. Profiles in Science also contains the Reports of the Surgeon General of the U.S. from Smoking and Health on, and an analysis of public health posters. This paper will describe the Profiles in Science project, focusing on the questions of deciding who is profiled, selecting documents for each site, and making the sites usable by different audiences, especially educators. The paper will then broaden its focus further, to consider the role of digital collections in education, chiefly at the university level, but also at the pre-collegiate level and with adult learners.
The ‘colonial exchange’ in 18th century natural history.
From the 17th century to 19th, an active correspondence in natural history was carried on between various European ‘centers’, where information was collected and knowledge generated, and the ‘periphery,’ which by and large supplied the raw data for this creation of knowledge. This periphery might be located in North, South or Central America, Australia and the Pacific, India, or Africa; it might also be situated in less central parts of Europe itself. The letters were often published either as such or after some editing, especially the Philosophical Transactions. The writers might be colonists, travelers or explorers. In the paper, I study a corpus of correspondence between North America and Great Britain to illustrate the “colonial exchange” in natural history. The colonies produce raw materials, which are appropriated by the colonizing power; at the center these raw materials are processed and converted into finished goods, which are re-exported at a profit back to the colonies. What is being produced at the periphery in this case is the raw material for the creation of scientific of knowledge: specimens, descriptions and drawings, along with the vernacular names of species. What is produced at the center is systematic knowledge: scientific names, taxonomies and natural systems. These are then re-exported to the colonies in the form of publications volumes of the Philosophical Transactions and books on natural history. The colonial collectors can and do use these books — above all by Linnæus, but also for instance by Philip Miller — to attempt to classify and name their plants themselves: but the suggestion always has to be submitted to someone in Europe for final approval, and is by no means always accepted. This along with the construction of the sense of community, and with genuine friendship and affection is what natural history correspondence ultimately shows us.
Openness and secrecy in transmitting “magical knowledge”.
In the current secondary literature on ‘openness and secrecy’ in the transmittal of scientific and artisan knowledge, the discussion of magic is often neglected or over-simplified. Magic, however, is crucial for understanding the relation between science and the technical arts in the Renaissance. We are confronted with the problem that traditional models for understanding the circulation of scientific knowledge do not seem to capture the specificity of ‘magical knowledge’, and both the classifications of magic as open or secretive respectively fail when confronted with detailed case-studies. The current historiography on the subject is unconvincing and paradoxical.
In this paper, I will argue that it is possible to come to a better understanding of magic by placing it in the context of rhetoric, shows and illusionism. Recent research on itinerant showmen, demonstration lectures and phantasmagoria has stressed the importance of such models for the understanding of science as a whole, but the implications of this are not yet fully conceptualised. Drawing on two case-studies (on alchemical furnaces and magic lantern shows), I argue show that the dichotomy between openness and secrecy is in itself flawed and I will show that both magic and science were characterised by a specific dialectic of hiding and revealing. This is most clear when magic or science are confronted with the public in demonstrations or shows.
To conclude, I will suggest that a new (or rather, old) concept of truth is needed, which cuts across the false dichotomy between truth and illusion, to tackle the challenge magic poses to our understanding. Mapping the evolution of different notions of ‘truth’ can furthermore help in our conceptualisation of changes in ‘science’ and ‘magic’.
Settler Science Goes Metropolitan? Studying Birds and Mammals at the Colorado Museum of Natural History, 1901-1920.
In the early-twentieth-century U.S. Central West--still a frontier zone for the global knowledge system if not for westward settlement patterns--few regional institutions could lay claim to any recognition or status in the scientific community. Other than some well-regarded research related to mining and agriculture at the nascent state universities and agricultural experiment stations, much of the science done in the region (especially when it did not have direct practical application) was still dominated by East Coast institutions. One emerging exception was the Colorado Museum of Natural History in Denver, founded in 1901. By the 1910s, under a new director, J. D. Figgins, the Colorado Museum embarked on an ambitious program to expand its collections and research programs. This paper explores the different ways that the Museum studied birds and mammals in the field, emphasizing both how its leaders attempted to make its collecting practices more systematic and rigorous, and how experiences in the field complicated those efforts. By attempting to adhere to metropolitan standards of science, despite many difficulties, Figgins and his allies worked to raise the status of settler science in the burgeoning regional metropolis of Denver.
The German Sciences of State Promotion.
Looking out from landlocked central European principalities, eighteenth-century officials coveted the wealth of their European neighbors. They envied British markets, Dutch capital, and Spanish colonies. Envy bred self-examination, a favorite German pastime; self-examination, in turn, yielded a nagging sense of backwardness and unrealized potential. But even as they envied the wealth of other nations, German officials envisioned a prosperous future: they would extract new riches from within their borders by fully exploiting human and natural resources. This central European logic of development implied certain things about the sciences. Above all it implied that state-funded knowledge, like the sovereign’s mines and manufactories, had to turn a profit. By examining the fiscal strategies of academic administration, my paper shows how German principalities enlisted the sciences in their state building enterprises.
Literature, Science and Humanism.
Since its inception as a discipline, literary studies has prospered on the back of the idea that it defends the ‘human’ against the ‘reductive’ and ‘mechanical’ tendencies of scientific materialism. The idea has taken various forms, with differing degrees of subtlety, and in this paper I will touch on various instances, from nineteenth-century humanism to twentieth-century poststructuralism. Recurrently, the debate pivots on contested models of what language is and does, and in recent interdisciplinary work in the study of science and literature, the attribution to science of a linguistic and therefore cultural identity can appear to restore ‘humanistic’ value to an otherwise barren domain. In part, I assent to this gesture, arguing that certain caricatures of science might have seemed unsustainable if literary critics had extended to science their much-vaunted methods of close reading. But I also want to further unsettle the established terms of the debate itself. What if scientific rationalism, rather than language, were the shared medium of literature and science, implying that we gain from recognising in literature a mode of scientific cognition? What if science were the guardian of a rich and indeterminate sense of human value, and literature the repository of reductive and essentialistic definitions? What if materialism were the domain of creative imagination, and literature the source of a mechanistic recitation of facts? Who might really lay claim to the mantle of humanism?
Knowledge: Kepler and Galileo in the Years of Public Silence.
The earliest years of the 1600s witnessed a convergence of new modes of natural philosophizing with theoretical astronomy such as had failed to occur in the decades immediately following the publication of Copernicus’s De revolutionibus. The later period is well known, among other things, for the theoretical work of Galileo, Kepler and Gilbert as well as Rome’s silencing of Bruno in 1600. Equally well known is the infamous gap of thirteen years in the correspondence between Galileo and Kepler after a promising initial contact in 1597. Yet, contrary to most current historiography, Kepler and Galileo’s relationship, with its associated hopes and disappointments, did not altogether vanish in the years before 1610.
In this paper, I will explore residual, circumstantial clues that point to a continuing association. In particular, I will look at a network of Italian and transalpine intellectual friendships as well as the covert mediations through which Galileo and Kepler continued to track one another’s theorizing. Such connections provide one axis along which to read the circulation of theoretical knowledge in the period immediately pre-dating the telescopic episode of 1609-1610.
Launching from the physics department towards industry building: The transition of practices between amateur radio, research and commercial radio manufacturing in Norway during the interwar period.
Vebøjrn Tandberg was undisputedly the most legendary personality in the history of the Norwegian radio industry. He repeatedly stated that his radio factory had actually started in the basement of the physics department of the Norwegian Institute of Technology (NTH) in Trondheim. Tandberg was one of the first of a row of electrical engineers at Trondheim in the 1930s to construct precision measurement instruments based on radio technology. Like most of the other electrical engineers, Tandberg had been an enthusiastic radio amateur and member of the Trondheim Academic Radio Club. After graduating, these engineers spent between some months and some years as assistants to Professor Johan Holtsmark before they left for appointments in the industry. Consequently, according to Tandberg’s own understanding, his way of manufacturing commercial radios was crucially shaped by his experiences at the physics department and his acquisition of scientific work practices. According to Holtsmark, it was necessary that young engineers had to learn to think and work scientifically in order to suffice the requirements of modern production life. More than the mere acquisition of a body of theoretical knowledge, academic training of engineers for Holtsmark was the internalisation of scientific practices. In my paper I will explore the transfer of practices between amateur radio, scientific instrument making and research, and industrial production. With examples from the physics department of the Norwegian Institute of Technology at Trondheim I will show how practices and practitioners crossed from one to another.
Late Medieval Histories of Timekeeping Devices.
Historians of timekeeping have charted the history of clocks, clepsydras, and things like sandglasses since before sandglasses were invented in the mid-fourteenth century. In this paper, I will present the ways in which timekeeping and its associated devices were chronicled by historians of the late Middle Ages and Early Modern period, and briefly show how the attitudes and understandings embedded in these texts reflect the larger histories in which they have been written. In the process, I will shed new light on the early history of timekeeping in general.
The fact of an object’s invention did not constitute knowledge of its true historical origins. Many these written works speculate as to those objects’ origins, based on etymological or deductive logic. Sometimes the authors simply do not know when a device was invented, as is the case with the sandglass.
Interest in the origins of technologies flourished at the end of the Middle Ages. Several histories devoted especially to the subject were printed by the end of the fifteenth century, including those by Polydore Vergil and Marcantonio Sabbellico. I will examine the works of these authors, as well as those by Alessandro Sardi, Ramon Lull, and John Langley’s adaptation of Polydore Vergil’s work.