By Jed Z. Buchwald
New essays in technology background ranging around the complete box and comparable in so much example to the works of Charles Gillispie, one of many field's founders.
Read Online or Download A Master of Science History: Essays in Honor of Charles Coulston Gillispie PDF
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Additional resources for A Master of Science History: Essays in Honor of Charles Coulston Gillispie
No one ever doubted it. But with a few exceptions, the earlier generation never undertook much in the way of analysis of context. We produced little comparable to the fine-grained accounts that distinguish current work by recapturing the actuality of experiment; the life of a laboratory; the labor of field work in natural history and geology: the recalcitrance of instruments; the differences between what scientists say and what they do; the role of research schools; the place of patronage; the occasional cheating; the interplay of professional rivalries, of personal loyalties and hostilities, of institutional standing, of public reputations, of social position, of gender, race, material interest, ambition, shame, guilt, deceit, honor, pride.
That halcyon year was my introduction to archival research. It was clear ahead of time—and this was the attraction of the problem—that the period of French scientific preeminence in the world coincided with that in which political and military events centering in France were a turning point in modern history. The question was: what did these sets of developments have to do with each other? In the process of working that out amid the minutiae of the documents and the magnitude of all that happened in both domains, I came to feel that what I shall call the public history of science may better be elucidated through the medium of events, institutions, and practices than through abstract configurations of ideas and culture.
I had, in fact applied to graduate school not to study history of science but medieval history. As an undergraduate at Cornell, I had been a pre-med chemistry major for three years. But in my first semester I had become enthralled by a history course in ‘‘western civilization,’’ particularly the section on medieval history. I switched from chemistry to history and wrote an honors thesis on medieval canon law. However, I also took the survey history of science course taught by Professor Henry Guerlac as well as his seminar on the eighteenth century.