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The Architectures of Knowledge: Spatial Metaphors in Seventeenth-Century Science

Cawthorne, Sarah (2018) The Architectures of Knowledge: Spatial Metaphors in Seventeenth-Century Science. PhD thesis, University of York.

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This thesis sets out to explore the connections between scientific space and natural philosophical writing in seventeenth-century England. Though recent scholarly accounts have paid increasing attention to the spaces that housed the ‘new science’, very little attention has been paid to the ways in which these spaces were replicated on the page. This thesis will remedy that oversight by tracing the rich nexus of interconnections that linked natural philosophy, books and spaces of scientific investigation in seventeenth-century writing. Following an introduction in which the work and residence of Francis Bacon illustrate the rich multiplicity of ways in which architectural rhetoric shaped early modern epistemologies, subsequent chapters explore the analogical and metaphorical resonances of the spaces Bacon recommends for philosophy in his Gesta Grayorum (1594-95). Chapter One uses Thomas Browne’s Garden of Cyrus (1658) to show how the structures associated with particular scientific spaces could provide formal and aesthetic frameworks for texts. Highlighting the material and conceptual connections between gardens and early modern books, it explores how spatial analogies could work in extra-verbal ways, relying on shared cultural understandings and material histories to suggest methods of reading and knowing. Chapter Two examines the metaphor of ‘Nature’s Closet’ in Margaret Cavendish’s Poems, and Fancies (1653), illustrating how a multiplicity of real spaces might coalesce in the archetypal space of metaphor, and examining how sites of knowledge-making could be used both to formulate and express ideas about the nature of knowledge itself. Chapter Three surveys how the metaphorical laboratory worked across a wide range of natural philosophical texts as an explanatory figure for digestion. It interrogates what it means for a space so emblematic of empirical discovery and practical experiment to be used as an analogical trope and suggests how spatial analogies might transform as well as communicate developments in scientific theory.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Related URLs:
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Depositing User: Sarah Cawthorne
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2019 13:06
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2019 13:06
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23331

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