Léjon Saarloos (Leiden University) will speak on 'A hunger for truth’: desire and temptation in late Victorian science'. Respondent: Dr Heather Ellis (University of Sheffield).
In this presentation, I will argue that the categories of ‘desire’ and ‘temptation’ were important to the ways Victorian men of science perceived, disputed, and performed their scientific identities. Notions like desire and temptation recur over and over again in different types of sources and were uttered by actors from wildly varying backgrounds themselves. Chemists, like Edward Frankland for example, warned others not to desire money over knowledge, while historians like Charles Oman argued that a desire for historical completeness had detrimental effects on standards of education and scholarly productivity. Through a few examples, I hope to elaborate on the role desire and temptation played in the attempts of Victorian men of science to redefine their identities in a period of discipline formation and how they, in turn, sought to discipline themselves to live a scientific life.
Sponsored by the Research Group on University History and the History of Humanities Network