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Author: Michael R. Lynn

This book explores the appropriation of science in French society and the development of an urban scientific culture. Science underwent a process of commodification and popularization during the eighteenth century as more and more individuals sought to acquire some knowledge of scientific activities and as more and more people entered public debates on science. Popular science took many forms in the eighteenth century. While books, periodicals, universities, and academies all provided a breadth of scientific popularization at different levels and for different audiences, this book focuses on popular science within urban culture more generally. More than ever before, public lectures and demonstrations, clubs, and other activities arose in the eighteenth century as new opportunities for the general population to gain access to and appropriate science. These arenas for popular science were not restricted to people of a certain education. In fact, popular science, and public lecture courses in particular, was often set at a level that could be understood by pretty much anyone. This was a bone of contention between popularizers and their critics who felt that in some cases popular science lacked any sort of real scientific content. In reality, some popularizers had specific theoretical content in mind for their courses while others were admittedly more interested in theatrics. Identifying the audience, cost, and location of popular science helps reveal its place in urban culture. The book looks at the audience, identified through advertisements and course descriptions, as well as the economics of courses.

Michael R. Lynn

4 Institutions of popular science Eighteenth-century Parisians found themselves inundated with a plethora of new clubs all vying for their attention, patronage, and financial support.1 Many of these organizations attracted members by linking themselves explicitly with common Enlightenment themes and by claiming to disseminate useful knowledge.2 These societies often acted as centers for the transmission of enlightened ideas to the general public. In the last decades of the eighteenth century, one type of club, usually called musées or lycées after mythological

in Popular science and public opinion in eighteenth-century France
Douglas A. Lorimer

both in missionary publications and in the secular representations of popular science, informed the common culture in a more pervasive way than did the theories of mid-Victorian science. The most significant influence of science on these pre-existing representations of race may not be from the specific theories of the scientists but from the secularisation of representations of sin

in Science, race relations and resistance
Michael R. Lynn

3 The audience, economics, and geography of popular science Popular science gripped the imagination of people all over Europe in the eighteenth century and individuals peppered their conversations with facts, allusions, references, and analogies to current scientific discoveries and debates. When John Adams arrived in France to assume his new post as United States ambassador he immediately met scientifically literate people. Adams, who was a bit less versed in the ways of sociability than some of his predecessors, especially Benjamin Franklin, found himself in a

in Popular science and public opinion in eighteenth-century France
Tom Scriven

 103 4 Medicine, popular science, and Chartism’s improvement culture The principles and strategies that Lovett and Vincent developed over the course of 1840 were never marginalised within the ‘New Move’ but instead became accepted as a core aspect of Chartist political culture. This chapter will outline how by 1842 it is clear that Chartists across the movement highly valued moral, physical, and mental improvement and saw it as a prerequisite for any meaningful social or political change. Universal improvement would not just make for better Chartists, but would

in Popular virtue
Literary discussions on nature, culture and science
Author: Silvia Granata

This book explores the vogue for home aquaria that spread through Great Britain around the middle of the nineteenth century. The marine tank, perfected and commercialised in the early 1850s, was advertised as a marvel of modernity, a source of endless entertainment and a tool providing useful and edifying knowledge; it was meant to surprise, bringing a profoundly unfamiliar experience right to the heart of the home and providing a vista on the submarine world, at the time still largely unknown. Thanks to an interdisciplinary approach, this book offers an example of how the study of a specific object can be used to address a broad spectrum of issues: the Victorian home tank became in fact a site of intersection between scientific, technological, and cultural trends; it engaged with issues of class, gender, nationality and inter-species relations, drawing together home décor and ideals of domesticity, travel and tourism, exciting discoveries in marine biology, and emerging tensions between competing views of science; due to the close connection between tank keeping and seaside studies, it also marked an important moment in the development of a burgeoning environmental awareness. Through the analysis of a wide range of sources, including aquarium manuals, articles in the periodical press and fictional works, The Victorian aquarium unearths the historical significance of a resonant object, arguing that, for Victorians, the home tank was both a mirror and a window: it opened views on the underwater world, while reflecting the knowledge, assumptions, and preoccupations of its owners.

Michael R. Lynn

, composed the group that performed this task. These popularizers employed a variety of oral and visual techniques in which the audience watched science in action and sometimes actually performed or participated in the experiment. When middling savants published popular science books, as they sometimes did, they often did so by compiling lectures they had previously delivered in their courses. Popularizers intended their audience to read about and, if possible, to duplicate the demonstrations described therein. Since popularizers usually did not concern themselves with

in Popular science and public opinion in eighteenth-century France
Britain, 1870–1914

This study of the ‘colour question’, 1870-1914, offers a new account of the British Empire’s most disturbing legacy. Following contradictions within the ideology of empire, the book provides a revisionist account of race in science, and an original narrative of the invention of the language of race relations, and of resistance to race-thinking. Constructions of race in both professional and popular science were rooted in the common culture, yet were presented as products of nature. Ironically, science only gained a larger public when imperialism, not nature, created a global pattern of racial subordination and conflict. Though often overlooked, the longer term legacy of Victorian racism grew out of the newly invented language of race relations. Originating in the abolitionist movement, this language applied to the management of the historically unprecedented multi-racial communities created by empire. A dissenting minority of abolitionists and persons of African and Asian descent championed racial egalitarianism and colonial nationalism in resistance to the dominant discourse. By 1910, they suffered a crushing defeat in contesting white power in South Africa. As a consequence, in the new twentieth century, visions of a colour-blind empire belonged to a sentimentalised, archaic abolitionist past. Under the guise of imperial trusteeship, a new lexicon of race relations gave legitimacy to the institutionalised inequalities of an empire bifurcated by race.

Abstract only
Michael R. Lynn

electrical shock through 180 of Louis XV’s royal guards, all holding hands, while the monarch and his entourage looked on. Later, and much to the delight of the king, he simultaneously shocked 200 Carthusian monks, “volunteers” from a monastery near Paris. Even more startling, some savants debated whether or not they could electrify eunuchs. Three of the king’s musicians, all castrati, underwent a series of tests; to everybody’s satisfaction, they jumped as much as the other test 2 POPULAR SCIENCE AND PUBLIC OPINION subjects.3 While certainly amusing, at least to the

in Popular science and public opinion in eighteenth-century France
Abstract only
Michael R. Lynn

the Institut to replace the old royal academies, it rewarded Charles with a membership. In fact, from among the popularizers still working in France at the time of the Revolution, the Institut honored only Charles with inclusion in their new society. Charles’s success demonstrates that popular science continued into the French Revolution; but science during that time period began to take on a new tone, with the professionalization of science education, a new focus on the utility of science for the state, and the emphasis on savants working directly for the nation

in Popular science and public opinion in eighteenth-century France