Communicating Physics

The Production, Circulation, and Appropriation of Ganot's Textbooks in France and England, 1851–1887

Combining history of science, history of education, and book history, the author provides fresh perspectives on nineteenth-century physics by means of an original narrative based on a fine-grained study of the production, circulation and appropriation of Ganot's famous textbook on physics.
Winner of the 2010 Marc-Auguste Pictet Prize

The textbooks written by Adolphe Ganot (1804-1887) played a major role in shaping the way physics was taught in the nineteenth century. Ganot’s books were translated from their original French into more than ten languages, including English, allowing their adoption as standard works in Britain and spreading their influence as far as North America, Australia, India and Japan.

Simon’s Franco-British case study looks at the role of Ganot’s two textbooks: Traite elementaire de physique experimentale et appliquee (1851) and Cours de physique purement experimentale (1859), and their translations into English by Edmund Atkinson. The study is novel for its international comparison of nineteenth-century physics, its acknowledgement of the role of book production on the impact of the titles, and for its emphasis on the role of communication in the making of science.

256 Pages, 6 x 9 in.

March, 2011

isbn : 9780822944881

about the author

Josep Simon

Josep Simon is an associate professor in history of science, technology, and medicine, at Universidad del Rosario, Colombia.

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Josep Simon