Science and the Body Politic in Early Industrial Britain
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: State University of New York Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Anyone who has transformed a doctoral dissertation into a book has incurred a long thank-you list. It is only appropriate to thank first those who served as midwives to the birthing process. For generously sharing their time, expertise, and encouragement with me, I thank my doctoral committee at Indiana University: Richard Sorrenson, Jim Capshew, Jeanne Peterson, and Nico Bertoloni-Meli. ...
PART I Embodied Epistemology
ONE The Nervous Man of Science
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ATOP THE MANLY SHOULDERS of Britain’s first industrial age sat some of history’s coolest heads of scientific genius: James Watt, Humphry Davy, and William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), just to name a few.While new generations of scientifically and industrially minded men tethered Britain’s profits, governance, and other public domains, women disappeared into factories, dark ...
TWO The Social Hierarchy of Subjectivity
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NERVOUS DISORDERS DISRUPTED the day-to-day life of natural philosophy and threatened the tenuous claim that natural philosophy had to the Enlightenment crown of reason. Generalizing from one’s own experience of nature meant transforming that experience into something that was not utterly idiosyncratic, that could be understood by others, that could ...
PART II The Nervous Conditions
THREE Provincialism and Color Blindness
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JOHN GOUGH’S CAMEO APPEARANCE in Wordsworth’s “The Excursion” (above)1 marked his status as a minor legend in the Georgian period. A childhood bout with smallpox left Gough blind. Undeterred, he embarked on a career as a mathematics tutor and botanist. He could distinguish plants according to their tastes and smells, and even said he could taste color. While Wordsworth ...
FOUR Mental Governance and Hemiopsy
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ANYONE WHO HAS SUFFERED A MIGRAINE has probably watched spots, lines, or other geometric shapes radiate through their field of vision. Today, physicians call these visual effects scotomas. In Britain’s early industrial period a number of prominent natural philosophers experienced the same phenomena, which they deemed the result of a nervous disorder called hemiopsy. ...
FIVE Rational Faith and Hallucination
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WHILE SERVING AS LIBRARIAN to the Earl of Shelburne in the 1770s, the radical chemist Joseph Priestley was called to the chambers of the earl’s son. The youth had spent a sleepless night due to a distressing dream in which a hearse carried him to his family’s burial place.Dr. Priestley assured him that the dream was simply the product of a fever. The medical attendant assigned to ...
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I BEGAN THIS BOOK with an image of industrial Britain as a muscular world. By now we know that this was also a nervous world, and not just for its women. For men—even well-educated, well-fed men like our natural philosophers—facts and bodies had an orneriness about them that continually defied easy control. Creating a national science thus meant constant diligence.Natural philosophers’ labors to tame the orneriness of scientific ...
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Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 1 b/w photograph, 1 table, 15 figures
Publication Year: 2006
Series Title: SUNY series in Science, Technology, and Society (discontinued)
Series Editor Byline: Sal Restivo