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Aesthetics, Industry, and Science

Hermann von Helmholtz and the Berlin Physical Society

M. Norton Wise

Aesthetics, Industry, and Science

M. Norton Wise

432 pages | 31 color plates, 73 halftones, 6 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2018
Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9780226531359 Will Publish June 2018
E-book $10.00 to $45.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226531496 Will Publish June 2018
On January 5, 1845, the Prussian cultural minister received a request by a group of six young men to form a new Physical Society in Berlin. In fields from thermodynamics, mechanics, and electromagnetism to animal electricity, ophthalmology, and psychophysics, members of this small but growing group—which soon included Emil Du Bois-Reymond, Ernst Brücke, Werner Siemens, and Hermann von Helmholtz—established leading positions in what only thirty years later had become a new landscape of natural science. How was this possible? How could a bunch of twenty-somethings succeed in seizing the future?
 
In Aesthetics, Industry, and Science M. Norton Wise answers these questions not simply from a technical perspective of theories and practices but with a broader cultural view of what was happening in Berlin at the time. He emphasizes in particular how rapid industrial development, military modernization, and the neoclassical aesthetics of contemporary art informed the ways in which these young men thought. Wise argues that aesthetic sensibility and material aspiration in this period were intimately linked, and he uses these two themes for a final reappraisal of Helmholtz’s early work. Anyone interested in modern German cultural history, or the history of nineteenth-century German science, will be drawn to this landmark book.
Contents
Introduction
1
Parade auf dem Opernplatz
2
Pegasus and the Muses (Museums) of Art, Industry, and Science
Section 1: Altes Museum, University, and Bauschule
3
Pegasus and the Muses (Museums) of Art, Industry, and Science
Section 2: Gewerbehaus
4
Modernizing Military Schools: Self-Acting Officers and Instruments
5
“What’s in a Line?”
6
The Berlin Physical Society
7
The Mechanism of Matter: Hermann Helmholtz’s Erhaltung der Kraft
8
“A Spectacle for the Gods”
Epilogue
Kunst-Technik
Acknowledgments
Bibliography
Index
 
Review Quotes
Anke te Heesen, Humboldt-Universit├Ąt zu Berlin
“Painting Wissenschaftsgemälde in the Humboldtian sense, this book is a histoire totale of early nineteenth-century Berlin. Wise follows the paths of the well-educated citizen as well as the measuring technician, taking the reader to scientific and aesthetic sites, to industrial and military zones. Bringing classical muses and contemporaneous frogs together, Aesthetics, Industry, and Science opens a new panorama onto progress and modernity.”
John Tresch, Warburg Institute, University of London
"Aesthetics, Industry, and Science is a brilliant, multi-faceted reframing of the emergence of modern Germany as a scientific, industrial, and military power. In what amounts to a historical ethnography of mid-19th century Berlin, Wise deftly decodes paintings, architectural forms, physics diagrams, and scientific instruments to reveal the dense connections among classicists, painters, physicists, philosophers, and engineers and their shared sense of the city’s future. Classicism and idealism laid the groundwork for a new civic culture of disciplined freedom and Bildung, transforming the Prussian capitol’s streets, façades, and museums, while providing conditions for scientific and technical achievements in steam, electricity, and engineering that culminated in Hermann von Helmholtz’s definitive work in thermodynamics. Tracing the curves between scattered points, identifying shared motive forces, and tuning in to profound resonances, this book is a tremendous achievement by one of the great historians of science; with both broad vision and minute precision, it demonstrates the inseparability of political programs, aesthetics, experiment, and Technik in the making of modernity."
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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