Reflections on popular science in Britain: genres, categories and historians

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Abstract

This essay surveys the historiography of popular science in Britain since 1994 and suggests two further ways in which the history of popular science might be reintegrated with larger narratives and concerns. First, it suggests that a closer and more systematic engagement with literary history, especially in relation to genre, has the potential to transform our understanding of science as a set of communicative practices. Second, it analyzes current historians' usage of the categories “popular science” and “science popularization” and argues against the view that these categories should be expunged from our vocabulary (except as actors' categories). Handled correctly, these “umbrella‐labels” can function as vital tools of communication with other disciplines and wider constituencies, as well as within our own field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-345
Number of pages13
JournalIsis
Volume100
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009

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