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Victorian Popularizers of Science: Designing Nature for New Audiences 1st Edition
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Lightman's focus here is the roles played, usually separately, sometimes in conjunction, of what he terms "popularizers" (i.e., not professional scientists) and university-educated and recognized scientists who conducted original research. He recounts in some detail (the book being over 500 pages long in not the largest type) how a number of the popularizers contributed to the flow of publications for the general public that was sparked by increased literacy and new mass publishing techniques. Many of these authors, especially Anglican priests, sought to discuss nature from a religious perspective; others were strictly following in the Darwin/Huxley mode of pure science. A valuable byproduct of Lightman's study is that he includes much discussion of the Victorian publishing industry which transformed the popularizers' ideas into books and articles. He also looks at the extensive lecturing conducted by the popularizers as an adjunct to their writing.
One of the most interesting chapters deals with the efforts in the later 19th century when prominent scientists, such as Huxley and Robert Ball, directed some of their attention to reaching the lay public.Read more ›
Author: Bernard Lightman.
Publisher: Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Reviewer: Dr Bill Palmer: Associate Curtin University.
Originally online at Academici: [...]
This is a scholarly work of 502 pages with a further 43 pages of bibliography and indexes in a hardback edition. It contains about 68 black and white illustrations most of which are clear and relevant, though a few are unduly dark; the book cover is nicely coloured which might lead some to expect internal coloured plates, as part of the joy of the Victorian texts being described is their colourful illustrations, but there are none, nor is there an index of illustrations. Victorian popularizers of science was priced at a very reasonable $ 45.00.
Bernard Lightman is an experienced author in this field; he edits Isis and Victorian Science in Context and co-edits Science in the Marketplace, so Victorian popularizers of science is backed by extensive scholarship and is authoritative in the picture it presents of Victorian popularizers of science. The book consists of a preface, acknowledgements, eight chapters and a concluding chapter to summarise the conclusions (Remapping the Terrain). Who will use this book? Some readers will wish to see the whole picture of the popularization of science discussed, whilst others will wish to use it as a reference work as they follow some personal interest in one of the popularizers of science whose oeuvre is discussed in detail. The author of this review has written about some of the popularizers mentioned and has found that Lightman's focus on them as popularizers is an excellent source of additional information about them.Read more ›