Jacob Moleschott – A Transnational Biography

Science, Politics, and Popularization in Nineteenth-Century Europe

This is the first academic biography of the scientist and politician Jacob Moleschott (1822-1893). Based on a vast range of primary sources in German, Italian, Dutch, French, and Latin, it not only sheds new light on the history of materialism in the natural sciences, but also shows the deep entanglement of science, politics, and popularization in 19th-century Europe. Applying new methods from cultural history and the history of science, Laura Meneghello focuses on processes of knowledge circulation, transnational mobility, and the role of translation in 19th-century science.

€49.99 * $55.00 *

9 November 2017, 490 pages
ISBN: 978-3-8376-3970-4

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Laura Meneghello

Laura Meneghello, Universität Siegen, Deutschland

... with Laura Meneghello

1. Why a book on this subject?

Jacob Moleschott was a key figure of in nineteenth-century scientific and political landscapes, whose transnational biography was still mostly unexplored. On the base of thorough archival research, this book examines the entanglement of science and politics in Moleschott's transnational career, as well as processes of knowledge transfer and translation.

2. What relevance does this subject have in the current research debates?

Cultural studies, translation studies, and science studies have pointed to processes of knowledge circulation, of cross-fertilization of discourses and practices, and of migration. Focusing on one of the central actors who was participating in and shaping these very processes in nineteenth-century Europe, Moleschott's biography makes them tangible, revealing their role in the field of science and its popularization, in the field of political views and nation-building, and in their reciprocal intertwinement.

3. What new perspectives does your book open up?

It proves that new approaches from cultural history, the history of science, and translation studies are able to make the ›old‹ genre of biography go beyond traditional narratives. It makes tensions visible both when analyzing discourses and when analyzing practices of translation. It focuses on transnational knowledge circulation and its role in nation-state building, showing that both scientists and international scientific networks were essential to the formation of nation-states. It enlightens the role of rhetoric in scientific popularization as well as of scientific theories and metaphors in political discourses, and vice versa. It shifts the focus of the traditional research in the history of scientific materialism from the abstract level of ideas and structures to the concrete level of actors and their (discursive) practices.

4. Who would you preferably like to discuss your book with?

With historians – specifically, with historians of science and cultural historians. But also with historians of philosophy interested in actors and practices behind the ideas, with sociologists open to historical studies and with literary scholars open to interdisciplinary perspectives.

5. Your book in only one sentence:

Jacob Moleschott's biography offers an actor-centered view on European science and politics on their reciprocal entanglement in the nineteenth century.

»Meneghello provides an important contribution to the understanding of the interaction of biology and politics in the nineteenth century.«
Florence Vienne, Metascience, 28 (2019)
»The author [succeeds] in drawing a rich and comprehensive picture of Moleschott as a member of the scientific landscape of his time between national coverage and international recognition.«
Carolin Kosuch, Quellen und Forschungen aus italienischen Archiven und Bibliotheken, 98 (2018/19), translated from German
»A worthy successor to Frederick Gregorys landmark study of 1977 and a fine exemplar of the insight afforded by scientific biography.«
Gabriel Finkelstein, ISIS, 109/4 (2018)
»With her biography of Moleschott, Meneghello has closed a desideratum that reveals exciting transnational perspectives on the role that popular science played in the process of European nation-building.«
Claus Spenninger, Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte 41/3 (2018), translated from German
Laura Meneghello
Book title
Jacob Moleschott – A Transnational Biography Science, Politics, and Popularization in Nineteenth-Century Europe
transcript Verlag
kart., Klebebindung
Commodity Group
HIS010000 HIS054000 SCI034000
Release date
9 November 2017
Wissenschaft, Kulturgeschichte
History of Science, Philosophy, History, Sociology, Literary Studies, Cultural Studies
Jacob Moleschott, Biography, Materialism, Physiology, 19th Century, History, History of Science, Cultural History, Science, Politics, Political History, Transnational, Mobility, Knowledge Circulation, Translation, Popularization, Europe, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, European History, History of the 19th Century

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