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Narrating a New World: How Microscopic Experience was Communicated through the Words and Images of Robert Hooke’s Micrographia
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History of Science and Ideas.
2008 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year))Student thesis
Abstract [en]

This essay revolves around Micrographia written by the English 17th century experimental philosopher Robert Hooke and the way it mediated microscopic experience. The focus of this study is on one hand the strategies Hooke used to communicate experience and on the other the responses by some of Hooke’s contemporary readers. By comparing Micrographia to Henry Power’s Experimental Philosophy, we see that Micrographia uses images where the author is invisible and textual narrations with an explicit authorial voice to mediate experimental experience to his contemporaries. Samuel Pepys uses the mediated experiences to learn how to see through the microscope and to become more like the author in Micrographia, Margaret Cavendish does not trust the representational techniques of Hooke and the playwright Thomas Shadwell satirizes the gentleman virtuoso that constitutes the narrative voice in Micrographia. By the study of these three readers, I build on Peter Dears definition of a scientific text as having an inherent reference to an experimental situation. By seeing Micrographia as defined through the interactions between the author and the readers, we see that this reference, and therefore a text’s scientific status, is defined by a relation between author and reader based on trust. The reader has to trust both the author and the representational techniques used in the text. The appropriation of Micrographia by readers who do not possess this trust, results in the redefinition of Micrographia into other kinds of texts that fill different purposes defined by the readers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. , p. 61
Keywords [en]
Micrographia, Robert Hooke (1635-1703), experimental experience, communicating science, English restoration, scientific text
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-113831OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-113831DiVA, id: diva2:291985
Presentation
(English)
Uppsok
Humanities, Theology
Supervisors
Available from: 2010-08-20 Created: 2010-02-04 Last updated: 2010-08-20Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
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