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Making Connections: Microscopy and Scientific Practice in Colonial America and the Wider Trans-Atlantic World

Kapoor, Archana (2013) Making Connections: Microscopy and Scientific Practice in Colonial America and the Wider Trans-Atlantic World. MA by research thesis, University of Leeds.

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Recent scholarship has challenged the assumptions that neither colonial Americans nor European microscopists contributed to science during the eighteenth century. Moving away from earlier attitudes and utilising new sources of information, scholars are now establishing that Europeans used microscopes as scientific tools during the eighteenth century and that colonial Americans contributed significantly to the various branches of natural history. These as yet separate developments are brought together in the thesis, which argues that eighteenth-century microscopes and texts moved across the Atlantic Ocean from London to colonial settlements, and that they were used by colonials as part of scientific investigations of plants and insects, as well as for entertainment. The thesis thereby contributes to recent developments in scholarship, but also extends this new scholarship to consider the trans-Atlantic geography of microscopy, and of microscopy as a facet of colonial science. The existing literature on colonial microscopy is not what we can describe as a distinct body of literature: after the initial studies in the 1940s, few, if any, historians have considered colonial microscopy as a distinct subject of research. This study builds extensively on the findings of earlier historians and makes the subject of colonial microscopy the explicit focus of research. It is divided into three main chapters: each chapter identifies different types of microscopy-related activities, sites of microscopy, as well as colonials who engaged with microscopy. Chapter two charts the development of microscopy in the institutional and public spheres of colonial America between 1732 and 1771. Both chapter three and chapter four examine the microscopy-related interests of two elite naturalists, James Logan of Philadelphia and Alexander Garden of Charleston. The study shows that eighteenth-century microscopy was a trans-Atlantic science. It presents an exciting new area of research and raises new questions for the wider historiography of eighteenth-century science

Item Type: Thesis (MA by research)
Keywords: microscopes; microscopy; eighteenth century; colonial America; trans-Atlantic
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science
Depositing User: Miss Archana Kapoor
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2020 07:26
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2020 07:26
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/16735

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