University of Cambridge > > Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science > Negotiating 'applied science' in the early 1930s: new media, new discourses, new ideology

Negotiating 'applied science' in the early 1930s: new media, new discourses, new ideology

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The study of the way science is talked about, in the press, literature and the media as well as academia and politics provides a way of going beyond the problems of ‘popularisation’. The term ‘applied science’ has been redeployed and reshaped over two centuries since its introduction into English in the early 19th century. Its meanings have come certainly from negotiations among policy makers, but also from the institutions to which it has been applied, the speeches in which it has been invoked, and the stories through which its triumphs have been retold in books, broadcast through the media, and displayed in museums. Its progress has served to give substance to the difference between past, present and future. Having outlined this methodological framework, the paper will focus on a key period during the early 1930s in which BBC radio created a new context for talk about science and HG Wells deftly managed a variety of platforms – books, film and newspapers – to promote Wellsianism. During this period the concept of ‘applied science’ was allied to such related concepts as planning, rationalisation and research, as illustrated by Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World of 1933. I shall argue for the relevance of Michael Freeden’s term ‘ideology’ to denote this ensemble of concepts in the public sphere.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science series.

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