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The emerging scientist: collectives of influence in the science network of nineteenth-century Britain

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At the beginning of the nineteenth century, there was no universal term to describe a person who practiced science. In 1833, the term “scientist” was proposed to recognize these individuals,

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, there was no universal term to describe a person who practiced science. In 1833, the term “scientist” was proposed to recognize these individuals, but exactly who was represented by this term was still ambiguous. Supported by Bruno Latour’s theory of networks and hybridity, The Emerging Scientist takes a historical approach to analyze the different collectives of individuals who influenced the cultural perception of science and therefore aided in defining the role of the emerging scientist during the nineteenth century.

Each chapter focuses on a collective in the science network that influenced the development of the scientist across the changing scientific landscape of the nineteenth century. Through a study of William Small and Herbert Spencer, the first chapter investigates the informal clubs that prove to be highly influential due, in part, to the freedom individuals gain by being outside of formal institutions. Through an investigation of the lives and works of professional astronomer, Caroline Herschel, and physicist and mathematician, James Clerk Maxwell, chapter two analyzes the collective of professional practitioners of science to unveil the way in which scientific advancement actually occurred. Chapter three argues for the role of women in democratizing science and expanding the pool from which future scientists would come through a close analysis of Jane Marcet and Agnes Clerke, members of the collective of female popularizers of science. The final chapter examines how the collective of fictional depictions of science and the scientist ultimately are part of the cultural perception of the scientist through a close reading of Shelley’s Alastor; or, the Spirit of Solitude and Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Ultimately, The Emerging Scientist aims to recreate the way science is studied in order to generate a more comprehensive understanding of the influences on developing science and the scientist during the nineteenth century.

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  • 2016