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Women and Enlightenment Science

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 04 November 2010

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the role played by women in Enlightenment science. During the eighteenth century the opportunities for women to gain a knowledge of science were minimal. Universities and other institutions devoted to research were the preserve of men. Yet many important contributions to the science of the Enlightenment were made by women.

These ranged from major breakthroughs like those of the British astronomer Caroline Herschel, the first woman to discover a comet, to important translations of scientific literature such as Emilie du Chatelet's French version of Newton's Principia - and all social classes were involved, from the aristocratic amateur botanists to the women artisans who worked in London's workshops manufacturing scientific instruments.

With:

Patricia Fara
Senior Tutor at Clare College, University of Cambridge

Karen O'Brien
Professor of English at the University of Warwick

Judith Hawley
Professor of 18th Century Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London

Producer: Thomas Morris.

  • FURTHER READING

    Patricia Fara, 'Pandora’s Breeches' (Pimlico, 2004)

    Patricia Fara, 'Newton: The Making of a Genius' (2004)

    Patricia Fara, 'Scientists Anonymous: Great Stories of Women in Science' (Cambridge: Icon Books, 2005)

    Karen O’Brien, 'Women and Enlightenment in Eighteenth-Century Britain' (2009)

    Caroline Merchant, 'The Death of Nature' (1980)

    Ruth Bleier, ed., 'Feminist Approaches to Science' (1986)

    Londa Schiebinger, 'The Mind Has No Sex?' (1989)

    Londa Schiebinger, 'Nature’s Body: Gender in the Making of Modern Science' (1993)

    Sandra Harding, 'Whose Science? Whose Knowledge?: Thinking from Women’s Lives' (1991)

    Evelyn Fox Keller, 'Reflections on Gender and Science' (1985)

    Thomas Laqueuer, 'Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud' (1990)

    Muriel Lederman and Ingrid Bartsch, eds, 'The Gender and Science Reader' (2001)

    Ann B. Shteir, 'Cultivating Women, Cultivating Science: Flora’s Daughters and Botany in England, 1760-1860' (1996)

    Mary Wyer, et al, eds, 'Women, Science and Technology: A Reader in Feminist Science Studies' (2001)

    Samantha George, 'Botany, Sexuality and Women's Writing, 1760-1830' (2007)

    Judith P. Zinsser, 'Emilie du Chatelet: Daring Genius of the Enlightenment' (2007)

    Ruth Watts, 'Women in Science: A Social and Cultural History' (2007)

    Erica Harth, 'Cartesian Women: Versions and Subversions of Rational Discourse in the Old Regime' (1992)

    Roy Porter, ed., 'The Cambridge History of Science', volume 4 "Eighteenth-Century Science" (2003)

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