Scientific culture was one of the defining characteristics of the English Enlightenment, permeating many aspects of Georgian society and culture. As new and mysterious realms were opened up, intellectual orthodoxies challenged, and exotic specimens acquired for aristocratic estates, private collections and museums, so the latest discoveries in astronomy, electricity and natural history were discussed and debated in homes, institutions, towns and cities around the country. But how did the production and dissemination of scientific knowledge vary with geographical location? What were the differing influences in town and country and from region to region? Enlightenment, Modernity and Science provides the first full length study of the geographies of Georgian scientific culture in England. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including manuscripts, institutional records, personal memoirs and correspondence, the author takes the reader on a tour of the principal arenas in which scientific ideas were disseminated and discussed - including the home, town and countryside - to show how the cultures of science and knowledge varied across the Georgian landscape. The importance of the Georgian domestic environment is explored and metropolitan scientific culture is contrasted with county towns such as York, Norwich and Hull, showing how aristocratic, gentlemanly and professional status nurtured relatively autonomous cultures. The role of natural philosophy in the formation of new spaces for science - such as public botanical gardens - is revealed and it is shown how this influenced, and was in turn influenced by, different sections of society. Taking in key figures such as Erasmus Darwin, Abraham Bennett, and Joseph Priestley along the way, and with chapters on science and the dissenting academies, and Freemasonry and antiquarianism, Enlightenment, Modernity and Science is a work that sheds important light on the complex geographies of Georgian English scientific culture.
Enlightenment, Modernity and Science
Geographies of Scientific Culture and Improvement in Georgian England