Article ID: CBB000410704

Newton for Ladies: Gentility, Gender, and Radical Culture (2004)


Francesco Algarotti's Newtonianism for Ladies (1737), a series of lively dialogues on optics, was a landmark in the popularization of Newtonian philosophy. In this essay I shall explore Algarotti's sociocultural world, his aims and ambitions, and the meaning he attached to his own work. In particular I shall focus on Algarotti's self-promotional strategies, his deployment of gendered images and his use of popular philosophy within the broader cultural and experimental campaign for the success of Newtonianism. Finally, I shall suggest a radical reading of the dialogues, reconstructing the process that brought them to their religious condemnation. What did Newtonianism mean to Algarotti? In opposition to mainstream apologetic interpretations, he seems to have framed the new experimental methodology in a sensationalistic epistemology derived mainly from Locke, pointing at a series of subversive religious and political implications. Due to the intervention of religious authorities Algarotti's radical Newtonianism became gradually less visible in subsequent editions and translations. It is only through the study of the first - clandestine - edition of the dialogues that one can begin reconstructing the meaning of Algarotti's experiments (real and fictional) and his cultural battle for a regenerated Europe.


Description On Francesco Algarotti's popular book Newtonianism for Ladies (1737).

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Authors & Contributors
Hutton, Sarah
Iorio, Elena
Fehér, Marta
Hamer, Mary
Wetzels, Walter D.
Schüller, Volkmar
Tractrix: Yearbook for the History of Science, Medicine, Technology, and Mathematics
Transactions of the International Congress on the Enlightenment
Science in Context
History of European Ideas
1650--1850: Ideas, Aesthetics, and Inquiries in the Early Modern Era
College Mathematics Journal
Cierre edizioni
Peter Lang
Harvard University Press
University of Virginia Press
Science and gender
Women in science
Science and society
Popular culture
Newton, Isaac
Algarotti, Francesco
Fontenelle, Bernard Le Bovier de
Du Châtelet, Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, Marquise
Carter, Elizabeth
Tiepolo, Giovanni Battista
Great Britain
Leipzig (Germany)
18th century
17th century
19th century
21st century
20th century

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