Applied science. Introduction

Isis. 2012 Sep;103(3):515-7. doi: 10.1086/667971.


Such categories as applied science and pure science can be thought of as "ideological." They have been contested in the public sphere, exposing long-term intellectual commitments, assumptions, balances of power, and material interests. This group of essays explores the contest over applied science in Britain and the United States during the nineteenth century. The essays look at the concept in the context of a variety of neighbors, including pure science, technology, and art. They are closely related and connected to contemporary historiographic debate. Jennifer Alexander links the issues raised to a recent paper by Paul Forman. Paul Lucier and Graeme Gooday deal with the debates in the last quarter of the century in the United States and Britain, respectively. Robert Bud deals with the earlier part of the nineteenth century, with an eye specifically on the variety of concepts hybridized under the heading of "applied science." Eric Schatzberg looks at the erosion of the earlier concept of art. As a whole, the essays illuminate both long-term changes and nuanced debate and are themselves intended to provoke further reflection on science in the public sphere.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Introductory Journal Article

MeSH terms

  • Art / history*
  • History, 19th Century
  • Science / history*
  • Technology / history*
  • United Kingdom
  • United States