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Popular Science in National and Transnational Perspective: Suggestions from the American Context
Vol. 100, No. 2 (June 2009), pp. 346-358
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/599548
Page Count: 13
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ABSTRACT In what ways can the study of science and popular culture in the American context contribute to ongoing debates on popularization and popular science? This essay suggests that, for several reasons, attention to the antebellum era offers the most significant opportunity to realize more sophisticated understandings of science in American popular culture. First, it enables us to take advantage of comparative opportunities, both by benefiting from the advanced state of historiography for Victorian popular science and by engaging with a generation of historiographic innovations by scholars in U.S. history, American studies, literature, and art history. Second, the emergence of popular science in the context of the republican ethos of the antebellum period provides an important vantage point from which to assess the extent to which the general issue of “popular science” and its cognates is historically variable and multiple in terms of the politics of knowledge. Third, the ramifications of the development of popular science for relations between science and the public well into the twentieth century cannot be understood until we gain a more clearly developed sense of the emergent period.
© 2009 by The History of Science Society. All rights reserved.