Eileen Reeves examines a web of connections between journalism, optics, and astronomy in early modern Europe, devoting particular attention to the ways in which a long-standing association of reportage with covert surveillance and astrological prediction was altered by the near simultaneous emergence of weekly newsheets, the invention of the Dutch telescope, and the appearance of Galileo Galilei's astronomical treatise, The Starry Messenger. Early modern news writers and consumers often understood journalistic texts in terms of recent developments in optics and astronomy, Reeves demonstrates, even as many of the first discussions of telescopic phenomena such as planetary satellites, lunar craters, sunspots, and comets were conditioned by accounts of current events. She charts how the deployment of particular technologies of vision—the telescope and the camera obscura—were adapted to comply with evolving notions of objectivity, censorship, and civic awareness. Detailing the differences between various types of printed and manuscript news and the importance of regional, national, and religious distinctions, Evening News emphasizes the ways in which information moved between high and low genres and across geographical and confessional boundaries in the first decades of the seventeenth century.
The Structures of Practical Knowledge investigates the nature of practical knowledge – why, how, when and by whom it is codified, and once codified, how this knowledge is structured. The inquiry unfolds in a series of fifteen case studies, which range in focus from early modern Italy to eighteenth century China. At the heart of each study is a shared definition of practical knowledge, that is, knowledge needed to obtain a certain outcome, whether that be an artistic or mechanical artifact, a healing practice, or a mathematical result. While the content of practical knowledge is widely variable, this study shows that all practical knowledge is formally equivalent in following a defined workflow, as reflected in a construction procedure, a recipe, or an algorithm. As explored in the volume’s fifteen contributions, there are three levels at which structures of practical knowledge may be understood and examined. At the most immediate level, there are the individual workflows that encompasses practical knowledge itself. Probing further, it is possible to examine the structure of practical knowledge as it is externalized and codified in texts, drawings, and artifacts such as models. Finally, practical knowledge is also related to social structures, which fundamentally determine its dissemination and evolution into new knowledge structures. The social structures of professionals and institutions represent the critical means by which practical knowledge takes form. These actors are the agents of codification, and by means of selection, appropriation, investment, and knowledge development, they determine the formation of new structures of practical knowledge. On a more abstract level, the creation of new knowledge structures is understood as constituting the basis for the further development of scientific knowledge. Rich in subject matter and incisive in the theory it lays out, this volume represents an important contribution to the history of science and epistemology. Individually, the fifteen case studies – encompassing the history of architecture, mining, brewing, glass production, printing, ballistics, mechanics, cartography, cosmology and astronomy – are replete with original research, and offer new insights into the history of science. Taken together, the contributions remodel historical epistemology as a whole, elucidating the underlining knowledge structures that transcend disciplinary boundaries, and that unite practitioners across time and space.
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