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Science under Control

Science under Control
The French Academy of Sciences 1795–1914

$57.99 (C)

  • Date Published: June 2002
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521524759

$ 57.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • The greatest ambition of any moderately successful nineteenth-century French scientist was to become a member of the Academy of Sciences. Science Under Control is the first major study in any language of this elite institution, in a period that began with such influential figures as Laplace and Cuvier and extended to the time of Louis Pasteur and Henri Poincare. The book attempts to remove the veil of mystery and misunderstanding that has shrouded this key institution and its procedures. The French government exercised political, financial, and bureaucratic control over the Academy, and the Academy in turn sat in judgment over all serious scientific production. Only with its approval could the work of French scientists win acceptance and advance their careers. The book examines the politics of science in a historical context drawing on a wealth of original historical sources. The author argues that the Academy was of importance not only nationally but also internationally, by its influence and by the establishment of certain procedures now considered basic to the organization of modern science. The book therefore provides a case study of carefully regulated scientific production encouraged yet constrained within a system of reports, prizes, and elections. This book will prove to be an invaluable source of information and of discussion on the history, politics, and religion of this intense period in European science.

    Reviews & endorsements

    "...brings out the detail of the operations of the Academy with the meticulous clarity that is the hallmark of his scholarship. He does not make judgements about the effect on the quality, originality or range of science done in France, or enter into the question whether there was a decline in scientific vitality relative to Germany and Britain in the course of the nineteenth century. Neither in this nor in his other writings is he given to grand views, and his quiet voice comes as rather a relief amid the extravagance of much current writing about the scientific enterprise." Charles C. Gillespie, Nature

    "...this essentially historical study is recommended for advanced undergraduate and university libraries seeking holdings in the history and development of modern science." L.C. Archie, Choice

    "...will certainly stand as the authoritative statement on its subject for many years." Dorinda Outram, Times Higher Education Supplement

    "...its excellent presentation makes it eminently readable and useful for anyone interested in French culture, especially those who study the period between the Revolution and the First World War. Crosland's clear prose style and his excellent organization make the book a pleasure to read." Carol Colatrella, Nineteenth-Century French Studies

    "...a sprawling, encyclopedic book on a key French scientific institution to which most leading scientists indispensable guide for anyone doing future studies of the Academy." H. W. Paul, American Scientist

    "...a carefully crafted institutional history of the French Academy of Sciences in the nineteenth century; based on the relevant archives and serial publications, it can be expected to stand as definitive." Fritz Ringer, American Historical Review

    "...provides a case study of scientific production encouraged yet constrained within a system of reports, prizes and elections." Bulletin of Sci., Tech., and Society

    "On the whole, this book clarifies and considerably enriches our knowledge of the functioning of the French research system in the nineteenth-century and of the structuring roles that the academy played up to the Second Empire....Because of the quality of its erudirion and its wealth of precise information, building on the decades of scholarship that the author has dedicated to the history of French Science, it will no doubt remain for a long time a major reference work." Camille Limoges, Isis

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2002
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521524759
    • length: 476 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 190 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.799kg
    • contains: 20 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Science in France
    2. The structure of the Academy
    3. The functioning of the Academy: some possible roles
    4. Science divided: the sections
    5. The Academicians
    6. Elections: 'green fever'
    7. Registration, judgement and reward
    8. The printed word
    9. The Academy under Government control
    10. Outsiders: the scientific fringe and the public
    11. The international context
    12. The control of the Academy of Science.

  • Author

    Maurice Crosland, University of Kent, Canterbury

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