I have finished a number of books recently, all of which I hope to post some comments on soon. These books include Neil Postman’s classic epistemological critique of a technologically obsessed culture, Amusing Ourselves to Death. I have also finished Steven Shapin’s The Scientific Revolution, where in the Introduction he provocatively states, “There was no such thing as the Scientific Revolution, and this is a book about it.” Another beautifully written book I have recently come to appreciate is David N. Livingstone’s Putting Science in its Place: Geographies of Scientific Knowledge, where he argues that “Like other elements of human culture, science is located.”Although at times turgid, Richard G. Olson’s Science and Scientism in Nineteenth-Century Europe also found space on my reading list and I was pleased with its overall argument. The last book I recently polished off was a rereading of Science and Religion: New Historical Perspectives, a collection of papers dedicated to the pioneering work of John Hedley Brooke, edited by Thomas Dixon, Geoffrey Cantor, and Stephen Pumfrey.
My next course of books to read will keep me occupied for some weeks. This list includes three works by Peter J. Bowler, his The Invention of Progress: The Victorians and the Past, Evolution: The History of an Idea, and a work co-written with Iwan Rhys Morus, Making Modern Science: A Historical Survey. Also on the list is an anthology of nineteenth-century literature which, I think, will provide wider orientation to that era of ideas, edited by Laura Otis, Literature and Science in the Nineteenth Century. Bernard Lightman’s Victorian Popularizers of Science: Designing Nature for New Audiences, and James A. Secord’s Victorian Sensation: The Extraordinary Publication, Reception, and Secret Authorship of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, will serve the same purpose. As I continue to tackle Rethinking Secularism, I have also picked up Michael Allen Gillespie’s The Theological Origins of Modernity. These books will helpfully give me a better sense of where my research interests are going.