Book launch celebrates York prof’s two works on Victorian science

York humanities Professor Bernard Lightman, a prolific editor and writer on 19th-century science and scientists, will celebrate the publication of not one, but two books next Wednesday, Nov. 28, at a book launch in the Renaissance Room, Vanier College, from 3:30 to 5:30pm.

The launch and reception are presented by The Office of the Dean, Faculty of Arts, and the York University Bookstores.

About the books

Victorian Popularizers of Science: Designing Nature for New Audiences focuses on an important group of men and women who wrote about science for a general audience in the second half of the 19th century. Lightman examines more than 30 of the most prolific, influential and interesting popularizers of the day, investigating the lecturing techniques, vivid illustrations and the accessible literary styles they used to communicate with their audience.

The 19th century was an age of transformation in science, when scientists were rewarded for their startling discoveries. It was also a time when ordinary people were give the opportunity to participate in science for education, entertainment or both. Science could be encountered in myriad forms and countless locations: in panoramic shows, exhibitions, galleries, museums, lecture halls and even domestic conversations and print materials. Science in the Marketplace: Ninteenth-Century Sites and Experiences, which Lightman co-edited with Aileen Fyfe, history professor at the National University of Ireland, Galway, focuses on these sites and the experiences of the audiences who encountered science there.

About Bernard Lightman

Bernard LightmanA specialist in the history of Victorian science, Lightman found time out from his duties as a teacher and editor of ISIS, the prestigious journal of the History of Science Society, which is based at York (see story in the Feb. 5, 2004 issue of YFile), to work on Victorian Popularizers of Science and Science in the Marketplace.

Lightman, a York graduate (BA ’73, MA ’74) who received his PhD at Massachusetts’ Brandeis University, is currently teaching an undergraduate course on Darwin, Einstein and the humanities, and a graduate course on Victorian science in York’s Faculty of Arts. He is also the author of The Origins of Agnosticism: Victorian Unbelief and the Limits of Knowledge (1987), editor of the Encyclopedia of Victorian Science (2004) and co-editor with Ann B. Shteir, professor of humanities and women’s studies at York, of Figuring It Out: Science, Gender, and Visual Culture (2006) (see Feb. 7 issue of YFile). These publications are just a few of the numerous books, chapters, journal articles and book reviews Lightman has written and edited over his career.

His current research is centred on two projects which he edits: The Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century British Scientists and a series of monographs titled Science and Culture in the Nineteenth Century.

Everyone is welcome to the launch and should RSVP before Nov. 23 to Michael Legris, marketing and special events coordinator, York University Bookstores, at ext. 22078 or by e-mail to