The material culture of the scientific revolution

(class leader: Dr Stephen Johnston)

This course is based in the Museum of the History of Science and will make use of its rich collections from Renaissance and early-modern Europe. During this period the use of instruments expanded beyond the Renaissance domain of mathematics – which included astronomy, time telling, navigation, surveying, the arts of war, and so on – as they also became tools of experimental natural philosophy. At the same time, the growth of collections and museums helps to place instruments and other objects of natural philosophical interest in a wider intellectual context: they were not used only for practical ends. While texts are our most familiar resource, material culture has become increasingly important for historians of science in recent years.