Contemporary ideals of science representing disinterested and objective fields of investigation have their origins in the seventeenth century. However, 'new science' did not simply or uniformly replace earlier beliefs about the workings of the natural world, but entered into competition with them. It is this complex process of competition and negotiation concerning ways of seeing the natural world that is charted by the essays in this book. The collection traces the many overlaps between 'literary' and 'scientific' discourses as writers in this period attempted both to understand imaginatively and empirically the workings of the natural world, and shows that a discrete separation between such discourses and spheres is untenable.
The collection is designed around four main themes-'Philosophy, Thought and Natural Knowledge', 'Religion, Politics and the Natural World', 'Gender, Sexuality and Scientific Thought' and 'New Worlds and New Philosophies.' Within these themes, the contributors focus on the contests between different ways of seeing and understanding the natural world in a wide range of writings from the period: in poetry and art, in political texts, in descriptions of real and imagined colonial landscapes, as well as in more obviously 'scientific' documents.
Contents: Introduction, Claire Jowitt and Diane Watt; The transparent man and the king's heart, Jonathan Sawday; Philosophy, Thought and Natural Knowledge: 'Things which are not': poetic and scientific attitudes to non-entities in the 17th century, Anthony R. Archdeacon; Points mean prizes: how early-modern mathematics hedged its bets between idealism and the world, Jess Edwards; Bantering with Scripture: Dr Archibald Pitcairne and articulate irreligion in late 17th-century Edinburgh, David E. Shuttleton; Religion, Politics and the Natural World: The politics of morbidity: plague symbolism in martyrdom and medical anatomy, Peter Mitchell; Restoring all things from the curse: millenarianism, alchemy, science and politics in the writings of Gerrard Winstanley, Andrew Bradstock; Providence, earth's 'treasury' and the common weal: Baconianism and metaphysics in millenarian utopian texts 1641–55, Carola Scott-Luckens; Gender, Sexuality and Scientific Thought: Journeys beyond frontiers: knowledge, subjectivity and outer space in Margaret Cavendish's The Blazing World (1666), Bronwen Price; Gender, science and midwifery: Jane Sharp, The Midwives Book (1671), Elaine Hobby; The masculine matrix: male births and the scientific imagination in early modern England, Ruth Gilbert; From nymph to nymphomania: 'linear perspectives' on female sexuality, Bettina Mathes; New Worlds and New Philosophies: Thomas Harriot and John White: Ethnography and ideology in the New World, Andrew Hadfield; 'Adding to the world': colonial adventure and anxiety in the writings of John Donne, Richard Sugg; Alternative planet: Kepler's Somnium (1634) and the New World, Mary Baine Campbell; Bibliography; Index.