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Worlds of Wonder: Sensation and the Victorian Scientific Performance

Iwan Rhys Morus
Isis
Vol. 101, No. 4 (December 2010), pp. 806-816
DOI: 10.1086/657479
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/657479
Page Count: 11
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Worlds of Wonder: Sensation and the Victorian Scientific Performance
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Abstract

ABSTRACT Performances of various kinds were central to the strategies adopted by Victorian natural philosophers to constitute their authority. Appealing to the senses of their audience through spectacular effects or ingenious demonstrations of skill was key to the success of these performances. If we want to understand the politics and practice of Victorian science—and science more generally—we need to pay particular attention to these sorts of performances. We need to understand the ingredients that went into them and the relationships between scientific performers and their publics. In particular, we need to investigate the self‐conscious nature of Victorian scientific performances. Looking at science as performance provides us with a new set of tools for understanding the politics of knowledge, the relationship between producers and consumers of scientific knowledge, and the construction and constitution of scientific authority.

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