Article ID: CBB403240450

Pluralism versus Periodization (2016)


There is much potential in Frans van Lunteren’s schema of using certain important machines as focal points for characterizing large-scale trends in scientific development. However, there are difficulties with the periodization of history he proposes, particularly with regard to the periods focused around the balance and the steam engine; these machines were highly influential somewhat simultaneously, and their cultural resonances were not entirely distinct from each other. Van Lunteren rightly recognizes the multifacetedness of the epistemic, social, and material roles played by each machine. It would be more productive and natural to craft a historiographical framework that highlights the complex overlaps and interactions between the multi-faceted roles of various iconic machines, rather than using the machines to define mutually exclusive and successive regimes of knowledge. In the end, we should also question the value of periodization as a mode of historiographical thinking: it makes for convenient but poor pedagogy.

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Authors & Contributors
Lunteren, Frans van
Worthen, Shana Sandlin
Wise, M. Norton
Stephens, Carlene E.
Steele, John M.
Santos López, Pascual
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Technikgeschichte: Beiträge zur Geschichte der Technik und Industrie
International Journal for the History of Engineering and Technology
British Journal for the History of Science
Arbor: Ciencia, Pensamiento y Cultura
University of North Carolina Press
Stanford University Press
Landmark Publishing
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
University of Toronto
Clocks and Watches
Steam engines; steam turbines
Time measuring instruments
Newcomen, Thomas
Huygens, Constantijn
Huygens, Christiaan
Harrison, John
Balzac, Honoré de
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
18th century
17th century
Middle and Near East
United States
Great Britain
Newcomen Society for the Study of the History of Engineering and Technology
Scientific Instrument Society

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