The Scholarly Self: Desire and temptation in Victorian science (Utrecht Cultural History Seminar met Léjon Saarloos)22 jun 2017
Van 11:30 - 12:45uur
In his presentation Léjon Saarloos (PhD candidate, Leiden University) will argue that the category of ‘desire’ was central to the ways in which Victorian men of science perceived, disputed, and performed their scientific identities.
Notions like ‘desire’, ‘passion’, ‘hunger’, ‘love’, ‘devotion’, and ‘taste’ recur over and over again in different types of sources and were uttered by actors from wildly varying backgrounds themselves, whenever they reflected on what it took to be a scholar or a man of science in late Victorian Britain.
‘Desire’, roughly defined as a strong and continuous dedication to the perceived goals of science, was seen as the guiding principle of a scholar’s character and as a guarantee of scientific virtuousness. Although most men of science agreed on the importance of being intrinsically motivated, ‘desire’ was a contentious category as well, as there was much disagreement upon what exactly was to be desired. Was scholarship to be focused on accuracy and completeness, or should it cherish imagination and creativity? Should men of science pursue money and fame, or should they live an ascetic life? Scientific desires and ideals were continuously negotiated. Through a few examples, I hope to elaborate on the role desire played in the attempts of Victorian men of science to redefine their identities in a period of discipline formation and how they, in turn, sought to discipline themselves to live a scientific life.
Please contact Willemijn Ruberg (W.G.Ruberg@uu.nl) to receive the accompanying paper.
More information: www.uu.nl