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A view from the industrial age

By J.R. Topham

Abstract

Like the constructivist approach to the history of science, the new history of reading has shifted attention from disembodied ideas to the underlying material culture and the localized practices by which it is apprehended. By focusing on the complex embodied processes by which readers make sense of printed objects, historians of reading have provided new insights into the manner in which meaning is both made and contested. In this brief account I argue that these insights are particularly relevant to historians of science, first, because practices of reading, like those of experiment and fieldwork, are constitutive of scientific knowledge, and, second, because attention to the history of reading provides important evidence of the multifaceted and uneven contest for meaning that occurs when science is mobilized in popular culture. The essay concludes by considering some of the surprisingly abundant sources of available evidence from which a history of scientific reading might be constructed for the modern era

Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Year: 2004
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.whiterose.ac.uk:1596

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