Thesis ID: CBB439459732

Experimental Women: Reclaiming Women's Scientific Work in the Long Eighteenth Century (2015)


"Experimental Women" argues that the relationship between women and science in the eighteenth-century has long been misread as one of imitation: both contemporary and modern observers have assumed that women participated in the major scientific developments of the age only peripherally - as wives, sisters, and companions of the great men about whom history texts are written, or as aspiring amateurs whose productions are derivative at best. This project challenges these outdated premises by focusing on areas of cultural and literary production by women that have not conventionally been considered part of a unified scientific discourse: utopian fictions, staged plays, women's periodicals, epistolary narratives, botanical artworks, and natural science craftwork. By actively engaging with, and often critiquing or subverting methodological assumptions made by Royal Society scientists - assumptions such as the significance of technology like microscopes or the authority of organizing systems like Linnaean taxonomy - the women featured in this project represent a substantial tradition of rarely-recognized dissenting scientific voices. The project thus traces a distinct, often alternatively gendered discourse of science that intersected with, complemented, and ultimately reworked the dominant discourse of scientific progress as outlined by the Royal Society of London. In rethinking the types of production that can be understood as scientific work through the intersection of literary studies and history of science, the project seeks to rediscover ways in which women may have gained access to an intellectual arena long assumed to be limited.

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Authors & Contributors
Bailes, Melissa
Findlen, Paula
Hanson, Craig Ashley
Coppola, Al
Jorink, Eric
Miert, Dirk van
Science in Context
Eighteenth-Century Studies
Eighteenth-Century Life
I Tatti Studies: Essays in the Renaissance
Journal of Social History
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
University of Virginia Press
University of Chicago Press
Cambridge University Press
Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Science and literature
Women in science
Science and culture
Science and gender
Popular culture
Cavendish, Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle
Smith, Charlotte
Fontenelle, Bernard Le Bovier de
Algarotti, Francesco
Faini, Diamante Medaglia
Behn, Aphra
Great Britain
United States
18th century
17th century
19th century
15th century
16th century
20th century
Royal Society of London
Académie des Sciences, Paris

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