In Elizabethan London, one of the more surprising things a wealthy owner of a beautifully illustrated folio volume could do was to take a sharp knife and cut it to pieces. John Blagrave’s 1585 Mathematical Jewel, in fact, demands nothing less. This work, which introduced an elaborate instrument of Blagrave’s design for performing astronomical calculations, … Continue reading More than a Manual: Early-Modern Mathematical Instrument Books
Readers of this blog may have asked themselves what the image identifying the Learning by the Book contributions shows. At first glance, the photo simply contains a row of worn, bound, heavy handbooks on a library shelf. The books are arguably very European and modern; however, they convey an aspect of “bookish” materiality that many … Continue reading The Politics of the Handbook
No matter how clear the exposition of the principles may be [in a lecture], no matter how fresh and striking the illustrations, it still remains that the student is relieved by the instructor from carrying on the mental processes which he ought to conduct for himself.
Why should researchers publish printed books in an age when everything is expected to be available online and when print is widely deemed outdated? Similarly, from 1955 to 1988, physicists who published articles in the 78-volume Handbuch der Physik—Encyclopedia of Physics had to explain to their colleagues why they were participating in a project that … Continue reading The Handbook as Genre: Conflicting Concepts in 1950s Physics Publishing
Marc Flandreau. Anthropologists in the Stock Exchange: A Financial History of Victorian Science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016.
Victorian London can be seen as multiple cities at once: the imperial metropole par excellence, where different political visions clashed in the course of establishing and governing the British Empire; the thumping heart of global capitalism… Continue reading
The polarizing contemporary debate on science in the United States could be extraordinarily interesting for historians of knowledge, if it were occurring in the past. Still, if we could divert our attention from the news for a moment, we might find it offers some food for thought. In the midst of the current conversation, which … Continue reading History of Knowledge and Contemporary Discourse on Science