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Victorian Scientific Naturalism examines the secular creeds of the generation of intellectuals who, in the wake of The Origin of Species, wrested cultural authority from the old Anglican establishment while installing themselves as a new professional scientific elite. These scientific naturalists—led by biologists, physicists, and mathematicians such as William Kingdon Clifford, Joseph Dalton Hooker, Thomas Henry Huxley, and John Tyndall—sought to persuade both the state and the public that scientists, not theologians, should be granted cultural authority, since their expertise gave them special insight into society, politics, and even ethics. In Victorian Scientific Naturalism, Gowan Dawson and Bernard Lightman bring together new essays by leading historians of science and literary critics that recall these scientific naturalists, in light of recent scholarship that has tended to sideline them, and that reevaluate their place in the broader landscape of nineteenth-century Britain. Ranging in topic from daring climbing expeditions in the Alps to the maintenance of aristocratic protocols of conduct at Kew Gardens, these essays offer a series of new perspectives on Victorian scientific naturalism—as well as its subsequent incarnations in the early twentieth century—that together provide an innovative understanding of the movement centering on the issues of community, identity, and continuity.
The essays in this volume focus on the way Victorian Physicist John Tyndall and his correspondents developed their ideas through letters, periodicals and journals and challenge assumptions about who gained authority, and how they attained and defended their position within the scientific community.
During the Victorian period, the practice of science shifted from a religious context to a naturalistic one. It is generally assumed that this shift occurred because naturalistic science was distinct from and superior to theistic science. Yet as Huxley’s Church and Maxwell’s Demon reveals, most of the methodological values underlying scientific practice were virtually identical for the theists and the naturalists: each agreed on the importance of the uniformity of natural laws, the use of hypothesis and theory, the moral value of science, and intellectual freedom. But if scientific naturalism did not rise to dominance because of its methodological superiority, then how did it triumph? Matthew Stanley explores the overlap and shift between theistic and naturalistic science through a parallel study of two major scientific figures: James Clerk Maxwell, a devout Christian physicist, and Thomas Henry Huxley, the iconoclast biologist who coined the word agnostic. Both were deeply engaged in the methodological, institutional, and political issues that were crucial to the theistic-naturalistic transformation. What Stanley’s analysis of these figures reveals is that the scientific naturalists executed a number of strategies over a generation to gain control of the institutions of scientific education and to reimagine the history of their discipline. Rather than a sudden revolution, the similarity between theistic and naturalistic science allowed for a relatively smooth transition in practice from the old guard to the new.
Whilst political and social events shook continental Europe, scientific developments were changing the way we understood the world. At the height of this change a series of remarkable books about science were published. In Visions of Science, Jim Secord explores a selection of these titles and how they were received, disseminated, and admired.
‘Darwin, Tennyson and Their Readers: Explorations in Victorian Literature and Science’ is an edited collection of essays from leading authorities in the field of Victorian literature and science, including Gillian Beer and George Levine. Darwin, Tennyson, Huxley, Ruskin, Richard Owen, Meredith, Wilde and other major writers are discussed, as established scholars in this area explore the interaction between Victorian literary and scientific figures which helped build the intellectual climate of twenty-first century debates.
Examines the dynamic interplay between evolution and Victorian culture, mapping new relationships between the arts and sciences.
First published in 1976, Raymond Williams' highly acclaimed Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society is a collection of lively essays on words that are critical to understanding the modern world. In these essays, Williams, a renowned cultural critic, demonstrates how these key words take on new meanings and how these changes reflect the political bent and values of our past and current society. He chose words both essential and intangible--words like nature, underprivileged, industry, liberal, violence, to name a few--and, by tracing their etymology and evolution, grounds them in a wider political and cultural framework. The result is an illuminating account of the central vocabulary of ideological debate in English in the modern period. This edition features a new original foreword by Colin MacCabe, Distinguished Professor of English and Literature, University of Pittsburgh, that reflects on the significance of Williams' life and work. Keywords remains as relevant today as it was over thirty years ago, offering a provocative study of our language and an insightful look at the society in which we live.

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