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This chapter asks how social networks form institutions, and whether this process means that institutions are only networks by another name. Its method is to trace networks of scientific lecturing in the long eighteenth century that eventually culminated in establishing new scientific and literary lecturing institutions in Glasgow and London around 1800. For the most part not studied since the 1960s, itinerant scientific lecturers formed pathways across northern and southern England that can be called decentered networks linking various provincial cultures before they crystallized in new institutional experiments like Anderson’s Institution at Glasgow in 1796 and the Royal Institution in London in 1800. The chapter focuses most closely on the forming of the Royal Institution out of disparate networks, from 1796 to 1802, and the process by which the gathering of those networks also created conditions for their mutation into the Royal Institution that Romantic audiences and lecturers knew in the early nineteenth century. More broadly it asks what kind of institutional values or mission statements make an institution more accountable to social and political critique than networks themselves would be capable of sustaining.
Chapter 10: This chapter covers a broad range of practices, from science public engagement events to collaborations between artists and scientists, theatre for young people, drama education initiatives, and global activism projects. Several case studies are examined: first, examples of exhibitions, lectures, and demonstrations focusing on Michael Faraday and the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, and on public autopsy demonstrations as well; second, arts-science collaborations, known as ‘sci-art,’ with reference particularly to the work of Y Touring; and third, theatre and activism in relation to climate change, as exemplified by Climate Change Theatre Action project. The discussion is framed within the author’s own experience as a practitioner working at the boundaries of theatre and science.
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