Article ID: CBB020098692

On the Function of Dedications in Early Modern Scientific Books (2018)


Historians of science have studied book dedications mostly as an expression of patronage relationships, but this was not their only reason of existence. In the first part of the article, the general functions of book dedications are analyzed. As a starting-point, the article uses one specific, fairly homogenous genre, the academic disputation. Dedicatees fall into three broad categories: parents and relatives, regents and nobles, and professors. The corresponding functions can be defined as: maintaining an existing relationship, asking for specific favors, and enhancing the author’s credibility. The same functions can be recognized in other genres, although with many exceptions and deviations. In the second part of the article, two concrete examples are analyzed in detail, Rheticus’ Narratio prima and Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius. As it appears, rather than follow a consistent strategy, their authors had to navigate between conflicting demands and considerations.

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Authors & Contributors
Feola, Vittoria
Barker, Peter
Goldstein, Bernard R.
Boner, Patrick J.
Barreca, Francesco
Blumenthal, Geoffrey
Journal for the History of Astronomy
Agricultural History
Histoire & Mesure
History of European Ideas
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
Franco Angeli
University of Chicago Press
Yale University Press
Cascade Books
Science and society
Science and politics
Science and culture
Galilei, Galileo
Copernicus, Nicolaus
Newton, Isaac
Vallisneri, Antonio
Rheticus, Georg Joachim
Kepler, Johannes
Time Periods
17th century
Early modern
16th century
18th century
15th century
Milan (Italy)
Prussia (Germany)

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