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Finding Aid

As the number of series-specific posts on this blog expands, we will be developing the finding aid as an organized means of retrieving information from the archives.  At the moment, the finding aid is only partially complete.

Series I. Primer

Primer (formerly Hump-Day History) is this blog’s post series on topics of general historical interest.  These posts are written to be read by an audience without a history of science background, but who are interested in a scholarly perspective.  Historiographical topics are generally avoided.  However, each post attempts to steer interested readers to some pertinent literature on the topic at hand.  We index these posts here according to historical chronology.

Galenic Theory (pre-modern)

Galileo’s Siderius Nuncius (1609-1610)

Pierre Gassendi’s Natural Philosophy (early-mid 17th century)

Robert Hooke (mid-late 17th century)

Newton’s Prism Experiments and Theory of Color (late-17th century)

The Royal Academy of Sciences (1660s to 1790s)

Dufay and Nollet (early-mid 18th century)

Félix Vicq d’Azyr and the Rise of Comparative Anatomy (1770s-90s)

Joseph Banks (1760s to 1820)

Jean-André de Luc’s Christian Geology (late 18th century)

The Length of the Meter (circa 1800)

Agriculture, the Royal Institution, and the Spirit of Improvement (circa 1800)

Joseph Marie Maistre and the Image of the Machine (circa 1800)

Georges Cuvier (late 18th, early 19th century)

Augustin Jean Fresnel (early 19th century)

Charles Fourier’s Utopian Socialism (1800s-1830s)

Lyell’s Principles of Geology (1830s)

Michael Faraday (1810s-1850s)

The British Association (1831 onward)

William Whewell’s “Method of Hypothesis” (1840s)

Adolphe Quetelet, Statistics, and Social Physics (mid-19th century)

Charles Darwin (mid-19th century)

Cambridge Tripos Coaches (19th century)

Arthur de Gobineau and the Orient (1850s-1860s)

William Thomson (mid-late 19th century)

Dmitrii Mendeleev (mid-late 19th century)

Karl Alfred von Zittel and his History of Geology and Paleontology (late-19th century)

American Functionalist Psychology (video, 1870s-1920s)

Imperial College (1840s-1930s)

The Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company (1880s-1920s)

Patrick Geddes (1870s-1930s)

Einstein’s relativity work (1900s-1910s)

Lucien Lévy-Bruhl: The Course of French Philosophy and the Primitive Mind (early 20th century)

The Rise of the Austrian School of Economics (late 19th-mid 20th century)

Malinowski and the Problem of Culture (early 20th century)

Drosophila genetics (early 20th century)

Ernest Lawrence’s cyclotron (1920s-1930s)

Deutsche Physik (1930s)

The Tizard Committee (1934-1940)

Leo Szilard (1898-1964)

Fred Terman (1930s-1960s)

The V-2 Rocket and Atmospheric Science (1946-1952)

The Soviet Bomb (1942-1955)

Linus Pauling (1901-1994)

Claude Lévi-Strauss and the Problem of Mind (1950s-1960s)

Herman Kahn (1950s-1960s)

Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997)

Silicon Valley gadgetry (1930s-1970s)

Project Matterhorn and Early Fusion Research (1950s-1970s)

Plate Tectonics (1950s-1960s)

Paul Feyerabend and Epistemological Anarchism (1970s)

Series II. The Schaffer Oeuvre

Our first “oeuvre” series is an exercise to look at a single scholar’s career output—here Simon Schaffer’s—so as to examine major concerns, writing style, and as an assay of historiographical change.  This index is bibliographical.  Since some posts examine more than one article, some links go to the same post (which are numbered sequentially).

1977.  “Halley’s atheism and the end of the world” (6)

1978.  “The phoenix of nature: fire and evolutionary cosmology in Wright and Kant” (7)

1980.  “Natural philosophy” (5)

1980.  “The great laboratories of the universe: William Herschel on matter theory and planetary life” (2)

1981.  “Herschel in Bedlam: natural history and stellar astronomy” (1)

1981.  “Uranus and the establishment of Herschel’s astronomy” (4*)

1983.  “Natural philosophy and public spectacle in the eighteenth century” (3 and 4)

1983.  “The political theology of seventeenth-century natural science” (12*)

1984.  “Priestley’s Questions: An Historiographic Survey” (16)

1985.  Leviathan and the Air Pump (with Steven Shapin) (8)

1985.  “Occultism and reason in the seventeenth century” (12)

1986.  “Discovery and the end of natural philosophy” (10)

1987.  “Godly men and mechanical philosophers: spirits and souls in Restoration England” (9)

1987.  “Priestley and the politics of spirit” (9)

1987.  “Newton’s Comets and the Transformation of Astrology” (14)

1987.  “Authorized Prophets: Comets and Astronomers after 1759” (14)

1988.  “Astronomers mark time: discipline and the personal equation” (13)

1988.  “Wallification: Hobbes on school divinity and experimental pneumatics” (12)

1989.  “Defoe’s Natural Philosophy and the Worlds of Credit” (19)

1989.  “Glass works: Newton’s prisms and the uses of experiment” (13)

1989.  “The nebular hypothesis and the science of progress” (11)

1989.  “The Glorious Revolution and medicine in Britain and the Netherlands” (12)

1990.  “Measuring Virtue: Eudiometry, Enlightenment, and Pneumatic Medicine” (17)

1990.  “States of Mind: Enlightenment and Natural Philosophy” (18)

1990.  “Genius in Romantic Natural Philosophy” (18)

1990.  “Halley, Delisle, and the Making of the Comet” (14)

1991.  “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Bruno Latour” (20)

1991.  “The History and Geography of the Intellectual World: Whewell’s Politics of Language” (19)

1992.  “Self Evidence” (21)

1992.  “Late Victorian Metrology and Its Instrumentation: A Manufactory of Ohms” (22)

1993.  “Comets and the World’s End” (14 and 15)

1993.  “Comets & Idols: Newton’s Cosmology and Political Theology” (14 and 15)

1993.  “Augustan Realities: Nature’s Representatives and Their Cultural Resources in the Early Eighteenth Century”  (23, 24, and 25)

1993.  “A Social History of Plausibility: Country, City and Calculation in Augustan Britain” (23, 24, and 25)

1994.  “Machine Philosophy: Demonstration Devices in Georgian Mechanics” (26 and 27)

1994.  “Babbage’s Intelligence: Calculating Engines and the Factory System” (35)

1994.  “Rayleigh and the Establishment of Electrical Standards” (22)

1995.  “Accurate Measurement is an English Science” (22)

1995.  “The Show That Never Ends: Perpetual Motion in the Early Eighteenth Century” (28)

1996.  “Babbage’s Dancer and the Impresarios of Mechanism” (35)

1997.  “Experimenters’ Techniques, Dyers’ Hands, and the Electric Planetarium” (29, 30, and 31)

1997.  “Metrology, Metrication, and Victorian Values” (22)

1999.  “Enlightened Automata” (32, 33, and 34)

1999.  “OK Computer”

*Piece referenced but not explicitly considered



1. James Schmidt - June 4, 2013

As a late comer to this blog (and shame on me for taking so long to discover it), this page is an enormous help in getting oriented. I’m looking forward to spending part of my summer vacation grazing here!

Will Thomas - June 4, 2013

Thanks James! I’ve been consistently enjoying your blog as well. The theme Enlightenment vs. Anti-Enlightenment and scientism vs. anti-scientism is a big concern of mine (and Chris Donohue’s as well), and features prominently in my book manuscript, Rational Action: The Sciences of Policy in Britain and America, 1940-1960. May I also recommend sorting posts by category, using the drop-down menu at the right, beneath the giant blog roll. The theme of the critical role of scientism runs throughout this blog, but the “Ideology of Science” category will be particularly germane.

2. Harvard. Trade Unionism and Allied Problems, Final Exam. Ripley, 1914-15 - Economics in the Rear-View Mirror - August 19, 2017

[…] Tip: The niche blog in the history of science and science and technology studies Ether Wave Propaganda–History and Historiography of Science by Will Thomas and Christopher Donohue. Alas, last posting September 6, […]

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