Communicating Chemistry: Textbooks and Their Audiences, 1789–1939

Communicating Chemistry: Textbooks and Their Audiences, 1789–1939

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Lundgren, Anders, and Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent, eds., 2000, vii + 465pp.
Boring, dogmatic, conservative . . . textbooks have a bad reputation, at least in science studies. They are considered to be useful only insofar as they provide a window on the "normal science" of a specific period. But what about the window-frame itself? It too is an interesting object, and as such deserves the attention of historians. How did textbooks differ from other forms of chemical literature? Under what conditions did they become established as a genre? Did textbooks develop a specific rhetoric? How did their audiences help shape the profile of chemistry?  

“The editorial work in this book is excellent, especially considering that many of the chapters were translated into English. The introduction . . . provides an excellent summary . . . the book provides fascinating insights into both the history and the philosophy of chemistry as well as being a pleasure to read. It is highly recommended.” —Foundations of Chemistry

“ . . . The symposium and the resulting book were skillfully choreographed by Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent and Anders Lundgren. All of the essays have been copyedited to a high standard—so necessary when producing such a polyglot project—and the book is beautifully designed.” —Isis

“ . . . For Kuhn, textbooks are repositories of ahistorical problems and rationalized rules, which maintain the 'normal science' of the time . . . (this) collection of eighteen papers is a valuable attempt to correct this passive image of teaching and give legitimacy to the historical investigation of textbooks . . . John Hedley Brooke’s introduction serves as an excellent guide not only for the diverse papers in this volume but for various themes in the study of textbooks.” —BJHS

" . . . John Brooke makes a brave attempt at a synthesis and his introduction is worth reading, as are many of the other chapters.” —HYLE