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Söderqvist T. (ed.) The History and Poetics of Scientific Biography

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Söderqvist T. (ed.) The History and Poetics of Scientific Biography
Ashgate, 2007. — 270 p.
Biographies of scientists carry an increasingly prominent role in today’s publishing climate. Traditional historical and sociological accounts of science are complemented by narratives that emphasize the importance of the scientific subject in the production of science. Not least is the realization that the role of science in culture is much more accessible when presented through the lives of its practitioners. Taken as a genre, such biographies play an important role in the public understanding of science.
In recent years there has been an increasing number of monographs and collections about biography in general and literary biography in particular. However, biographies of scientists, engineers and medical doctors have rarely been the topic of scholarly inquiry. As such this volume of essays will be welcomed by those interested in the genre of science biography, and who wish to re-examine its history, foundational problems and theoretical implications.
Borrowing approaches and methods from cultural studies and the history, philosophy and sociology of science, the contributions cover a broad range of subjects, periods and locations. By presenting such a rich diversity of essays, the volume is able to chart the reoccurring conceptual problems and devices that have influenced scientific biographies from classical antiquity to the present day. In so doing it provides a compelling overview of the history of the genre, suggesting that the different valuations given scientific biography over time have been largely fuelled by vested professional interests.
Introduction: A New Look at the Genre of Scientific Biography (by Thomas Söderqvist).
Presenting a ‘Life’ as a Guide to Living: Ancient Accounts of the Life of Pythagoras (by Liba Taub).
Biography as a Route to Understanding Early Modern Natural Philosophy (by Stephen Gaukroger).
Neither Genius nor Context Incarnate: Norman Lockyer, Jules Janssen and the Astrophysical Self (by David Aubin and Charlotte Bigg).
Framing the Evidence: Scientific Biography and Portraiture (by Patricia Fara).
Biography and the Reward System in Science (by Thomas L. Hankins).
The Tragedy of Comrade Hessen: Biography as Historical Discourse (by Christopher A.J. Chilvers).
Received Wisdom in Biography: Tycho Biographies from Gassendi to Christianson (by Helge Kragh).
The Programmatic Function of Biography: Readings of Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Biographies of Niels Stensen (Steno) (by Signe Lindskov Hansen).
Discriminating Days? Partiality and Impartiality in Nineteenth-Century Biographies of Newton (by Rebekah Higgitt).
Biographies as Mediators between Memory and History in Science (by Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent).
‘La Mauvaise Herbe’: Unwanted Biographies Both Great and Small (by Jacalyn Duffin).
Primary Suspects: Reflections on Autobiography and Life Stories in the History of Molecular Biology (by Rena Selya).
Pas de Deux: The Biographer and the Living Biographical Subject (by Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis).
Resuscitating the ‘Great Doctor’: The Career of Biography in Medical History (by Beth Linker).
‘No Genre of History Fell Under More Odium than that of Biography’: The Delicate Relations between Scientific Biography and the Historiography of Science (by Thomas Söderqvist).
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