What Happened to Sensational Science?

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Abstract

Historians now often write the history of nineteenth‐century science in terms of a move away from the body. The drive towards objectivity required that frail, fallible human bodies could no longer be trusted as arbiters of truth. Sensation, in other words, was being written out of the scientific narrative. In this lecture I want to take another look at science and sensation. Across a tranche of early nineteenth‐century sciences, bodily sensation remained a central feature of experimental practice. Crediting sensation in scientific practice was the mark of a particular constellation of philosophical attitudes. By surveying these sensational sciences I want to redraw the map of early nineteenth‐century scientific practices and see what contrasting attitudes to bodily knowledge can inform us about the cultural place of science between the end of the Enlightenment and the construction of a new Victorian order.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-403
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Romantic Review
Volume22
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2011

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