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Mary Somerville

Mary Somerville
Science, Illumination, and the Female Mind

$37.99 (P)

Part of Cambridge Science Biographies

  • Date Published: October 2001
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521626729

$ 37.99 (P)
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About the Authors
  • In an era when science was perceived as a male domain, Mary Somerville (1780-1872) became both the leading woman scientist of her day and an integral part of the British scientific community. Her scientific writings contributed to one of the most important cultural projects of Victorian Britain: establishing science as a distinct, integral, and unifying element of culture. By the time of her death, Somerville had achieved near-mythic status in Britain. Her works reflect both the power of science to capture imagination and the influence of cultural factors in the development of science. They provide a window into a particularly lucid and illuminated mind and into one of the most formative periods in the evolution of modern scientific culture. This retelling of Somerville's story focuses on the factors that allowed her to become an eminent scientist and argues for rethinking the story of women's participation in science.

    • Includes and discusses the significance of previously unpublished portions of Somerville's autobiography
    • Illustrates the fascinating process by which Somerville's life and career were committed to historical memory
    • Treats Somerville's life as both distinctive and as an illustration of larger trends
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "...Neeley poses compelling questions about the character of scientific discourse and women's participation in science." Lancet

    "Neeley...contributes to the recent wealth of work on science writing, an integration of gender studies and science-in-culture. ...Neeley's historiographical analysis of the changing strategies and roles for women in science over the course of Somerville's long life (1780-1872) deserves to be read by any serious scholar of nineteenth-century science or women's history." Isis

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2001
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521626729
    • length: 280 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.42kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Author's preface
    Prologue
    Perceiving what others do not perceive: the 'peculiar illumination' of the female mind
    1. Head among the stars, feet firm upon the earth: the problem of categorizing Mary Somerville
    2. Creating a room of her own in the world of science: how Mary Fairfax became the famous Mrs Somerville
    3. Science as exact calculation and elevated meditation: Mechanism of the Heavens (1931), Preliminary Dissertation (1832), and On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences (1834)
    4. The earth, the sea, the air, and their inhabitants: Physical Geography (1848) and On Molecular and Microscopic Science (1869)
    5. Personal Recollections (1973): Mary Somerville on Mary Somerville
    6. Memory and Mary Somerville: in the public eye and historical memory
    Epilogue: science, voice, and vision.

  • Author

    Kathryn A. Neeley, University of Virginia

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