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Printing Lines and Letters: How Structural Formulae Became the Standard Notation of Organic Chemistry

Kiprijanov, Konstantin Sergeevic (2018) Printing Lines and Letters: How Structural Formulae Became the Standard Notation of Organic Chemistry. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates how structural formulae became established as the default graphic notation of organic chemistry during the last third of the nineteenth century. Focusing on the period 1857 to 1892, it provides an alternative account of the development of modern chemical diagrams by examining the different communication practices that drove the inception, circulation, and appropriation of structural formulae in Britain and Germany, and which eventually led to an international convention on the iconography of the new symbols. In the thesis I advance three main claims. First, I argue that the communication of structural formulae was a complex and gradual process that followed different patterns in different countries. Secondly, I contend that the iconography of the modern chemical notation was not the result of the work of a small number of individual scientists, but that it was rather the outcome of the combined efforts of a large body of authors, teachers, editors, publishers, printers, and readers from different national backgrounds. Thirdly, I claim that the success of line-and-letter diagrams was not built on theoretical considerations alone, but was rooted in a number of practical and economic considerations that most historians have overlooked. In order to study these processes, the thesis develops a highly innovative approach that integrates the history of chemistry with the history of education and studies in science communication and print culture to analyse the communication of chemical knowledge across national borders and scientific communities. By following this approach, the thesis demonstrates that the establishment of the new chemical notation depended on the complex interaction of such factors as the function of print media in education, typographical constraints, and the active role of authors, teachers, editors, publishers, printers, and readers in shaping national and international markets for scientific print. In doing this, the thesis offers an original alternative to the theory-based account of the making of chemical knowledge and the formation of chemistry as a modern scientific discipline.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: chemistry; history of chemistry; history of science; diagrams; visualisation; print culture; textbooks; periodicals
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science
Depositing User: Dr Konstantin Sergeevic Kiprijanov
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2019 10:10
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2019 10:10
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23542

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