Recent Award

DDRIG: An Historical Study of Science and Scientific Culture

This Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant supports a study in the history of science that focuses on the development of science and scientific culture in the immediate aftermath of the Scientific Revolution. Up through the 19th century, science was not a uniform discipline or practice—there were many ways to investigate and engage with nature, not all of which are considered within the ambit of modern science today, but which nevertheless shaped the objectives and practices of modern science. By broadening the conception of what science is and how it developed, this project investigates the scientific activities that were carried out at non-traditional sites, including monastic communities, trade transshipment ports, and manufacturing complexes. By studying these sites alongside more familiar institutions, such as scientific academies, this project widens the category of scientific activities to include pre-industrial processes and technologies and lays the essential preconditions for the development of a scientific culture. In doing so, it re-evaluates the relationship between theory and practice in science and considers the relationship of religion and a material conception of nature.

Through archival research on the life and scholarship of natural philosopher, polymath, and popularizer of science Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov (1711-1765), this project examines three central questions: (1) what stimulated the rapid growth of science in the 18th century? (2) How should science be characterized in the 18th century, and who were its legitimate and extra-legitimate practitioners? (3) How were scientific methods and scientific authority codified, presented, and normalized in everyday discourse? Lomonosov’s life forms a lens through which the full history of science comes into sharper focus. Additionally, this study reveals Lomonosov’s efforts to create a science-literate public and cultivate trust in science and scientific authority. This account thus helps to historicize the promotion of scientific trust today. The results of this project will be shared through publications in scholarly and popular venues as well as through teaching.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2022 to Wednesday, May 31, 2023

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