, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 63–65 | Cite as

The play’s the thing: science and satire in the English enlightenment

Al Coppola: The theater of experiment. Staging natural philosophy in eighteenth-century Britain. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, x+264pp, £56.00 HB
  • Larry Stewart
Book Review

The reception of science in the eighteenth century has long been an issue for historians. Discussion has, however, tended to focus on the accomplishments of the greats, such as Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, Joseph Priestley and Antoine Lavoisier, not to mention many others notably the promoters of the grand Encyclopédiein the late Enlightenment. Reception is, of course, as much about audience as production, as about readers and witnesses. Experimental and natural philosophy was translated to otherwise passive observers by numerous writers and, as Coppola demonstrates, by playwrights and satirists. This, of course, is not a novel approach as literary scholars like Marjorie Nicholson, Pat Rogers and Ilse Vickers have long demonstrated. Coppola, nevertheless, approaches the satires and theatre of Restoration and Hanoverian England to reveal the complexity of comprehension of early modern science. He suggests that these performances reveal a significant epistemological change following...

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada

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