Victorian Science and Culture

HPSC-X706 — Spring 2023

Jordi Cat
Ballantine Hall 135
Days and Times
Monday/Wednesday 4:45P-6:00P
Course Description

The course will survey and discuss a number of typical and atypical developments, figures, institutions, places, objects, categories, values, fictions, and interactions in British sciences, philosophy and culture during the Victorian period.

Sciences will include physics, mathematics, astronomy, engineering, chemistry, geology, biology, medicine, psychology, anthropology and political economy. Philosophy will include Scottish and German metaphysics, Baconianism and philosophy of science.

Their developments will be examined through their interactions, themes and contexts. Themes will include, visibility/invisibility, materiality/immateriality, natural/supernatural, natural/artificial, objectivity/ subjectivity, spatiality (domestic, landed, academic, natural, urban, provincial, metropolitan, colonial, imperialism, nationalism, internationalism, travel), temporality (development, evolution and historicity, irreversibility and probability), population and variation, role of body, gender, class and species, construction and representation, truth and fiction, word and number, text and image, precision and uniformity, science and faith, professionalization, museum collection, classification and display and laboratory manipulation, measurement and demonstration.

Contexts that fed into the sciences and were fed by them will include social and political structures and developments, the industrial revolution, the culture of construction in industry and engineering (structures, models, machines, instruments, standards, work, engines, working classes, precision in manufacturing and accounting, electro-technology), culture of design (architecture, truth and redemption in architecture, manufacture, mechanical production and reproduction, convention and standardization, consumption, accumulation and display, aesthetics, education, Great Exhibition, controversies), fine arts (drawing, painting and sculpture, models and truth, criticism), crafts, photography, literature and publishing (realist and romantic poetry and fiction, journalism and criticism, popularization, self-help and encyclopedism, printing), entertainment (displays and sports), religion (conformism, sectarianism, spiritualism and moralism, paternalism, charity and temperance), and education (didacticism, Mechanics Institutes, Scottish and English Universities, classics and theology, Cambridge science Tripos examinations, romantic Trinity College, Apostles Club and Working Men’s College).