Selling Science in the Age of Newton : Advertising and the Commoditization of Knowledge book cover
1st Edition

Selling Science in the Age of Newton
Advertising and the Commoditization of Knowledge

ISBN 9781409400752
Published December 22, 2010 by Routledge
218 Pages

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Book Description

Selling Science in the Age of Newton explores an often ignored avenue in the popularization of science. It is an investigation of how advertisements in London newspapers (from approximately 1687 to 1727) enticed consumers to purchase products relating to science: books, lecture series, and instruments. London's readers were among the first in Europe to be exposed to regular newspapers and the advertisements contained in them. This occurred just as science began to captivate the nation's imagination due, in part, to Isaac Newton's rising popularity following the publication of his Principia (1687). This unique moment allows us to see how advertising helped shape the initial public reception of science. This book fills a substantial gap in our understanding of science and the culture in which it developed by examining the medium of advertising and its function in the discourse of both early-modern science and commerce. It answers questions such as: what happens to science once it is a commodity; how are consumers tempted to purchase science amidst a sea of other commodities; how is the reading public encouraged to give social acceptance to facts of nature; and how did marketing campaigns craft newspapers readers into a source of validation for the items of science advertised? In an age where the production of scientific knowledge increasingly relied upon sales to many rather than the endorsement of a single wealthy patron, marketing was the key to success.



Jeffrey R. Wigelsworth teaches English History and World History in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Red Deer College, Canada. His previous publications include Deism in Enlightenment England: Theology, Politics, and Newtonian Public Science (2009) and Science and Technology in Medieval European Life (2006).


'Selling Science in the Age of Newton is a detailed study, rich in primary-source citations, and a valuable addition to our understanding of public science in the first generation of its maturation.' Journal of Modern History 'Wigelsworth's book provides an innovative and interesting exploration of how people advertised science to a wider audience. His willingness to explore different kinds of advertisements - including those meant as warnings or notes, to people staking priority claims, and those simply trying to sell a book or attract an audience for a lecture series - help paint a broad image of the range of ways people communicated science.' Early Science and Medicine '... Wigelsworth provides insights on many of the dynamics common to the advertising of early modern ’science’ in newsprint during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. His book weaves a number of disparate samples, case studies and secondary sources into a good introduction to the subject and helpfully emphasizes the importance of incorporating these texts into the broader history of science and technology.' British Journal for the History of Science ’Drawing on many newspaper archives as well as those of the Royal Society, this book makes an important contribution to the study of the scientific enlightenment.’ Archives '... Wigelsworth should be commended for breaking new historical ground. He extends considerably fruitful studies of science and the public sphere by paying attention to a wealth of information in under-appreciated and most literally quotidian texts. I recommend this book to historians of advertising and historians of science alike.' Aestimatio '... contain[s] a great deal of interesting material.' Journal of British Studies