This is a call for the organization of a symposium on “Circulation of Mathematical Knowledge in 18th-century Britain” at the 4th International Conference of the European Society for the History of Science (Barcelona, 18-20 November 2010)

Background and Aims

Mainly as a consequence of British unconditional adherence to Newtonian methods, the mathematical activity in eighteenth-century Britain has traditionally been regarded as “in decline”. This picture, mostly moulded by early nineteenth-century English scientists, exaggerated in the way the so-called “British mathematical isolation.” In addition, the fact that the mathematical sciences were banned from the Royal Society in the second half of the century – under the presidency of Joseph Banks – cannot be overlooked. Several authors have already made a call for revision of this picture. The aim of this symposium is to provide new insights into the mathematical activity in eighteenth-century Britain through the analysis of communicative practices involved, both at national and transnational level. We are particularly interested in studying mutual exchanges between British and continental European mathematics, either out of individual initiative or on behalf of learned societies. Alongside the Royal Society, this symposium encourages the study of mathematical societies emerged in eighteenth-century Britain, like the Spitalfields Mathematical Society. This scenario provides also a good opportunity to discuss the role of correspondence in the progress of private knowledge towards public knowledge. Concerning the circulation of mathematical texts, we would like to explore how the publishing and bookselling trade worked, who published what, why and for whom, taking into consideration not only books, but also translations, new editions and journals. Finally, we are also interested in discussing educational matters such as teaching institutions, their curriculum of mathematics, training programmes for mathematics teachers or the writing and reading of educational books on mathematics. The analysis of the reading practices of educational books, extended by a survey of their actual uses, fits conveniently into the framework of appropriation, since some of the readers later became authors of new educational books.


January 25th 2010: Deadline for submission of paper proposals to the session organisers. Please, include name and affiliation, title and a 300-word abstract, making clear the relevance to the symposium. Please, send it as a Word document to Mónica Blanco (monica

[dot] blanco [at] upc [dot] edu) or Olivier Bruneau (bruneauolive [at] free [dot] fr).

February 1st 2010: Deadline for abstract submission to the Scientific Committee of the 4ESHS Meeting.

May 3rd 2010: Deadline for confirmation of accepted papers.

Please contact Mónica Blanco (monica [dot] blanco [at] upc [dot] edu) or Olivier Bruneau (bruneauolive [at] free [dot] fr) for further details.

For more information concerning the meeting, see < >