Review by Choice Review
Twenty papers from a 1995 York University conference make up this kaleidoscopic anthology on the contextual approach to Victorian science. Lightman's introduction traces the genealogy of contextualism, overstating the demise of alternative approaches but providing a useful interpretive framework. His contributors, identified only by name and postal address, evidently share an ideology of contextualism but have few specific contexts in common. Part 1 explores the often arbitrary and usually permeable boundaries between science, political ideology, and religion, between specialist and amateur, and between classes and genders. Part 2 offers detailed studies of how various audiences, including women, helped shape the production and dissemination of scientific knowledge in such forms as textbooks, public lectures, museums, and popular scientific magazines. The papers in part 3 focus on technical problems, scientific communication, and instrumentation within disciplines as examples of socially constructed discourse. All the essays are uniformly well written, informative, and thought-provoking. Each offers an extensive bibliography of both Victorian and recent sources. The book defines its field with great enthusiasm and would engage upper-division undergraduates, graduates, faculty, and scholars. D. H. Porter; Western Michigan University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Descriptive content provided by Syndetics™, a Bowker service.