7 March 2017
SCI's London Group in partnership with UCL's Chemical & Physical Society
UCL, London, UK
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The history of the chemical laboratory between 1760 and 1840 has tended to focus on purpose-built and dedicated sites such as the laboratories of Lavoisier or Faraday. This talk proposes that much chemical inquiry took place in adapted spaces in this period, such as the home, and was shaped by domestic notions of oeconomy, the proper social and material management of the household.
In this talk, Simon Werrett (UCL), will focus in particular on the way domestic material culture provided resources for experimentation, and consider the 'incompleteness' of resulting instruments, as they were adapted and underwent alterations and repairs. Oeconomy, Werrett will suggest, proposed that householders should care for material culture in the home, balancing the use of old goods with the purchase of new, and stewarding possessions through care, maintenance and repairs. What emerges then is a picture of chemical experimentation in the period 1760 to 1840 in which the re-use of old things was as significant a part of chemistry as the invention or consumption of new. The history of oeconomic chemistry offers potential insights into the future sustainability of experimentation.
Department of Chemistry
University College London
20 Gordon Street
London, WC1H 0AJ
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7598 1594
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Dr Simon Werrett, UCL