Scientific Discourse

Susan Scott Parrish

in The Oxford Handbook of Early American Literature

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780195187274
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Scientific Discourse

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
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The basis of this article is the scientific discourse which raged the existing world of science. This article analyses the position of science from the transatlantic context. Knowledge of the natural world—what we would today call “science”—was thus essential to survival and prosperity in colonial America. The colonization of America between 1500 and 1800 therefore encouraged the growth of numerous branches of science: oceanography, geography, botany, mineralogy, zoology, climatology, and ethnology. This new fifteenth-century ability to travel greater distances caused new encounters both biological and human, which in turn spurred the growth of modern institutions and technologies. The earliest form of English scientific writing was in fact a combination of travel narrative, promotional tract, descriptive atlas, and natural history. The most influential of these included Thomas Hariot's Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1588) and Captain John Smith's Generall Historie of Virginia and others.

Keywords: scientific discourse; colonial America; transatlantic context; English scientific writing; travel narrative

Article.  9011 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Fiction, Novelists, and Prose Writers)

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