Leeds academic wins funding to explore how Victorian publishing transformed science for the people

Dr Jon Topham has been awarded £320,000 from the Leverhulme Trust to examine how Victorian Britain’s modern vision of science came to be. 

In Victorian Britain the sciences were regarded as key to national prosperity, harmony, and progress, but where did that characteristically modern vision of science come from? 

Dr Topham, senior lecturer in the History of Science, has begun a 40-month project to explore a groundbreaking perspective that argues it emerged out of the new possibilities for public communication that resulted from the industrialization of book production. 

Transforming science and society

‘Science for the People: Popular Print and the Making of the Victorian World’ focuses on an epoch-making programme of cheap publishing developed by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge that placed the sciences at the heart of a progressive and democratizing industrial society.  

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It will explore how the underlying vision of authoritative, useful, and secular knowledge transformed both the sciences and British society. 

Dr Topham will work with project advisor Professor James Secord of the University of Cambridge, post-doctoral research fellow, Dr Franziska Kohlt, and PhD student, Alexander King to produce a monograph.