The Era of Experiments and the Age of Wonder: Scientific Expansion from the Seventeenth to the Nineteenth Centuries (Proceedings of the Symposium in Honor of the Reopening of the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology and the Smithsonian Libraries’ Resident Scholar Program)

2019-09-13T11:27:00Z (GMT) by Lilla Vekerdy
On March 4–5, 2010, the Smithsonian Libraries celebrated its rare book collections with a symposium to mark the reopening of the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology and its Resident Scholar Program following a two-year closure caused by renovations in the National Museum of American History (NMAH), where the library is located. Titled “The Era of Experiments and the Age of Wonder: Scientific Expansion from the Seventeenth to the Nineteenth Centuries,” the symposium brought together a broad range of scholars, headlined by British author Richard Holmes, whose best-selling group biography of scientists and poets in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science (2008), won the Royal Society Prize for Science Books and the National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction. Showing how discoveries of early scientists and explorers like Joseph Banks, William and Caroline Herschel, and Humphry Davy were carried into the poetry of Byron, Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats, Holmes’ book clearly demonstrates that C. P. Snow’s “two cultures” were not nearly as far apart as they seem to have become. Here, Holmes’s essay on how he, a former literature professor, was stimulated to explore this fascinating subject was also the 2010 Dibner Library Lecture, an annual event sponsored by the Dibner family.