Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 January 2009
What sort of activities took place in the academic laboratories developed for teaching the natural sciences in Britain between the 1860s and 1880s? What kind of social and instrumental regimes were implemented to make them meaningful and efficient venues of experimental instruction? As humanly constructed sites of experiment how were the metropolitan institutional contexts of these laboratories engineered to make them legitimate places to study ‘Nature’? Previous studies have documented chemists' effective use of regimented quantitative analysis in their laboratory teaching from the 1820s, but less is known about how Victorian academics made other sorts of laboratories unproblematic pedagogical spaces. This paper will examine the literary, disciplinary and instrumental technologies of microscopy deployed by T. H. Huxley at his South Kensington laboratory during the early 1870s to render his biology teaching legitimate, meaningful and efficient. As such it is a response to Pickstone's recent call for a broader account of microscopy teaching in late nineteenth-century academic life science, and one localized answer to Bennett's enquiries as to what the appearance of a microscope in laboratories and other domestic settings betokened to historical actors, and how such tokens changed over time.
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77 Carpenter wrote flatteringly of his rival's invention that it ‘may be conveniently applied to the purposes of clinical observation (the examination of Urinary Deposits, Blood, Sputa &c), either in hospital or in private practice; whilst it may also advantageously be used by the Field Naturalist in examining specimens of Water for Animalcules, Protophytes, &c’, Carpenter, , op. cit. (75), pp. 82–3.Google Scholar
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111 For Huxley's concern to avoid controversy on evolutionary matters in his teaching see the correspondence reproduced in Caron, J. A., ‘Biology in the life sciences: a historiographical contribution’, History of Science, (1988), 26, p. 250CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed; on the notoriety of Huxley, 's 1869Google Scholar lecture ‘On the physical basis of life’, see Bibby, op. cit. (98), p. 63.Google Scholar
112 Foucault, , op. cit. (13)Google Scholar, ‘The means of correct training’, pp. 170–94Google Scholar. Note that in drawing upon this theory of normalizing discipline, I am giving a social constructivist account of ‘Nature’ quaGoogle Scholar pedagogical authority and not a ‘Foucauldian’ structuralist analysis of power diffusion.
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