Introduction: Why Materials?

Ursula Klein and E. C. Spary

in Materials and Expertise in Early Modern Europe

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780226439686
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226439709 | DOI:
Introduction: Why Materials?

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This book investigates how materials such as metals, gunpowder, pigments, and foods contributed to artisanal innovation, the development of the consumer market, and the formation of the observational and experimental sciences of the early modern period. Focusing on the eighteenth century, the period when mixed technoscientific practices involving materials were transformed into sustained social institutions, it examines the ways in which innovative practices involving materials, technical expertise, and learned natural knowledge converged in workshops, laboratories, and marketplaces. The book looks at materials that were plural in nature and produced by ingenious labor, mundane consumption, and sustained inquiry into nature and art. It also considers the experts who occupied themselves with materials. Furthermore, the book challenges existing theories of the history of science and technology that assume a one-way flow of knowledge between the sciences and the arts, in either direction. It thus offers a new perspective on material culture and raises new questions about the link between practical expertise and learned natural inquiries in the early modern period.

Keywords: materials; material culture; sciences; arts; technical expertise; workshops; metals; gunpowder; foods; science; technology

Chapter.  9564 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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