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Borderlands in science : a study in the interactive regeneration of science in the English "popular" Scientific Journal c1865-c1914

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:44 authored by N. P. Edwards
This study examines the regeneration of science and scientific ideas through the media of three popular scientific periodicals of the later Victorian and Edwardian periods, Nature, Knowledge, and English Mechanic. It posits twin concepts of generative and regenerative science, the former being the source of a scientific idea, and the latter being the forma in which it is transmitted in scientific discourse. Negotiations between the different scientific spheres of the scientists, science users, scientific practitioners and the scientific public take place in the forma of regenerative science, which has utilitarian, cultural and imaginative facets. Following the traditions of post-structuralist ideas of discourse there is a scientific society in which all participate in an active or passive manner. In chapter one theoretical and sociological ideas are examined in their relationship to the historiography as the concept of regenerational science is established. Chapter two examines the position of the popular scientific periodical within science and the scientific role it fulfils. A discussion of the background and structure of the three main primary sources establishes them as media of regenerational science and nexi of utilitarian, cultural and imaginative discourses. Chapters three to five analyse these with a number of limited case studies, ranging from accepted natural science to 'marginal' sciences such as Zetetic astronomy, Pyramidology and astrology. Chapter six uses the debate over the existence of canals on Mars to demonstrate these discourses in interaction. The power of regenerative science to reconstruct accepted scientific ideas is emphasised, and established concepts of the historiography of popular science such as cultural authority, 'ownership' of ideas and the constructed divide between scientist and public are represented as factors in the development of discourse. Chapter seven draws some more general conclusions about the nature of regenerative science in its interaction with a popular scientific folk psychology. Regenerative science is presented as a primary agent in the creation of professional science and construction of hegemonic ties, the period 1860-1914 being crucial. A hypothesis is posited that such regenerative science, in addition to creating established formae and channels of scientific communication, in turn reshapes 'official' science.


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University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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