Book ID: CBB540485687

The Curious Eye: Optics and Imaginative Literature in Seventeenth-Century England. (2020)


The Curious Eye explores early modern debates over two related questions: what are the limits of human vision, and to what extent can these limits be overcome by technological enhancement? In our everyday lives, we rely on optical technology to provide us with information about visually remote spaces even as we question the efficacy and ethics of such pursuits. But the debates surrounding the subject of technologically mediated vision have their roots in a much older literary tradition in which the ability to see beyond the limits of natural human vision is associated with philosophical and spiritual insight as well as social and political control. The Curious Eye provides insight into the subject of optically-mediated vision by returning to the literature of the seventeenth century, the historical moment in which human visual capacity in the West was first extended through the application of optical technologies to the eye. Bringing imaginative literary works by Francis Bacon, John Milton, Margaret Cavendish, and Aphra Behn together with optical and philosophical treatises by Johannes Kepler, Rene Descartes, Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, and Isaac Newton, the volume explores the social and intellectual impact of the new optical technologies of the seventeenth century on its literature. At the same time, it demonstrates that social, political, and literary concerns are not peripheral to the optical science of the period but, rather, an integral part of it, the legacy of which we continue to experience.

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Authors & Contributors
Wade, Nicholas J.
Colette Dufossé
Nader-Esfahani, Sanam
A. Joan Saab
Walter, Christina Michelle
Simon, Anne
Revue d'Histoire des Sciences
Journal of the History of the Neurosciences
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Galilæana: Journal of Galilean Studies
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Circumscribere: International Journal for the History of Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Claremont Graduate University
University of Pennsylvania Press
Pennsylvania State University Press
Oxford University Press
Visual perception
Science and literature
Senses and sensation; perception
Visual representation; visual communication
Kepler, Johannes
Stevin, Simon
Scheiner, Christoph
Roberval, Gilles Personne de
Proust, Marcel
Time Periods
17th century
19th century
16th century
20th century, early
20th century
London (England)
Rome (Italy)
Jesuits (Society of Jesus)

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