Science, Culture and Politics in Britain, 1750–1870: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Science, Culture and Politics in Britain, 1750–1870

1st Edition

By Jack Morrell


350 pages

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Hardback: 9780860786337
pub: 1997-04-24
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From the late 1960s, Jack Morrell’s articles have stimulated a reorientation of the historiography of science. He showed by example, in the studies now gathered here, how the social, political, economic, and institutional aspects of science could be integrated with its content. In his writings he assumed that science was a socially organised attempt to set and solve problems concerning the natural world, and that historians should take cognisance of everything which affected that activity - without down-grading published knowledge, its end-product. Specific topics in this volume include the institutions of British science, especially universities, laboratories, and research schools, the careers of the scientists, and the impact of science in the north of England and, especially, in Scotland.


'Morrell challenges the view that no work in the social history of science before 1980 is now worth reading. With three exceptions, all the papers presented here pre-date 1980 and constitute a formidable reproach to that view. Each played its part in steering the history of science towards the best historical practices and in each we find the clarion call that science must be studied as a social activity, not just as published knowledge.' Ambix ’ …this collection illustrates a central figure’s breadth of scholarship and methodological consistency over time. Important areas of the social history of science were prefigured in papers collected here; they are still valuable and are at the heart of central issues in the history of science.’ British Journal for the History of Science, vol. 33 '… a valuable addition… it is always refreshing to re-read work of such quality and enduring inventiveness.' Social History of Medicine

Table of Contents

Contents: Reflections on the history of Scottish science; The Edinburgh Town Council and its university, 1717-1766; The University of Edinburgh in the late 18th century: its scientific eminence and academic structure; Professors Robison and Playfair, and the Theophobia Gallica: natural philosophy, religion and politics in Edinburgh, 1789-1815; The Leslie affair: careers, Kirk and politics in Edinburgh in 1805; Thomas Thomson: professor of chemistry and university reformer; Science and Scottish university reform: Edinburgh in 1826; The chemist breeders: the research schools of Liebig and Thomas Thomson; Practical chemistry in the University of Edinburgh, 1799-1843; The patronage of mid-Victorian science in the University of Edinburgh; Individualism and the structure of British science in 1830; London institutions and Lyell’s career: 1820-41; Brewster and the early British Association for the Advancement of Science; Economic and ornamental geology: the Geological and Polytechnic Society of the West Riding of Yorkshire, 1837-53; Wissenschaft in Worstedopolis: public science in Bradford, 1800-1850; Index.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at [email protected]

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General