These essays throw new light on the complex relations between science, literature and rhetoric as avenues to discovery in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Scholars from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds examine the agency of early modern poets, playwrights, essayists, philosophers, natural philosophers and artists in remaking their culture and reforming ideas about human understanding. Analyzing the ways in which the works of such diverse writers as Shakespeare, Bacon, Hobbes, Milton, Cavendish, Boyle, Pope and Behn related to contemporary epistemological debates, these essays move us toward a better understanding of interactions between the sciences and the humanities during a seminal phase in the emergence of modern Western thought.
’… succeeds in assembling wide-ranging and frequently provocative studies that, individually and collectively, mark a welcome contribution to the field… This fine collection provides a wealth of material and rhetorical modes of framing and reframing natural philosophy in the early modern period, particularly during the late seventeenth century.’ Renaissance Quarterly ’Realizing that disciplinary centers do not hold in our own space and time any more than they did for past cultures, these skillful interdisciplinary scholars illustrate the ongoing complexity, value and importance of crafting their own content and rhetoric to construct and communicate knowledge within and across multiple audiences simultaneously.’ Early Science and Medicine 'The editors set out to provide scholars and students of early modern studies with a new way to understand disciplinary interactions of the period. Certainly, they achieve this goal, but this collection is an intriguing and sturdy starting point for more endeavours of the sort, a necessity of the project's vast aim.' Renaissance Studies '… a useful and interesting volume.' British Society for Literature and Science
Contents: Introduction; 'The fashioned image of poetry or the regular instruction of philosophy'? Truth utility and the natural sciences in early modern England, Peter Harrison; Mapping regeneration in The Winter's Tale, Anne Sutherland; 'A plain blunt man': Hobbes, science and rhetoric revisited, David Burchell; Reformed catechism and scientific method in Milton's Of Education and Paradise Lost, Angelica Duran; Rewriting the revolution: Milton, Bacon and the Royal Society rhetoricians, Catherine Gimelli Martin; A philosophical duchess: understanding Margaret Cavendish and the Royal Society, Peter Dear; Literary responses to Robert Boyle's Natural Philosophy, Peter Anstey; Milton's Chaos in Pope's London, Sophie Gee; Global analogies: cosmology, geosymmetry and skepticism in some works of Aphra Benn, Robert Markley; Bibliography; Index.