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British Weather and the Climate of Enlightenment


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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Enlightenment inquiries into the weather sought to impose order on a force that had the power to alter human life and social conditions. British Weather and the Climate of Enlightenment reveals how a new sense of the national climate emerged in the eighteenth century from the systematic recording of the weather, and how it was deployed in discussions of the health and welfare of the population. Enlightened intellectuals hailed climates role in the development of civilization but acknowledged that human existence depended on natural forces that would never submit to rational control.

Reading the Enlightenment through the ideas, beliefs, and practices concerning the weather, Jan Golinski aims to reshape our understanding of the movement and its legacy for modern environmental thinking. With its combination of cultural history and the history of science, British Weather and the Climate of Enlightenment counters the claim that Enlightenment progress set humans against nature, instead revealing that intellectuals of the age drew characteristically modern conclusions about the inextricability of nature and culture.

About the Author

Jan Golinski is professor of history and humanities at the University of New Hampshire and the author of Making Natural Knowledge, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations •  Preface • 


            Introduction: Weather and Enlightenment 


1.         Experiencing the Weather in 1703: Observation and Feelings 

            The “Exquisite Atmography” and Its Author • The Atmosphere and the Earth • Clouds in the Head


2.         Public Weather and the Culture of Enlightenment 

            The Great Storm in Public Debate • Providence and the British Climate • Conversation and Weather Lore


3.         Recording and Forecasting 

            The Discipline of the Diary • The Calendar and the Seasons • Forecasting by the Heavens


4.         Barometers of Enlightenment 

            The Genealogy of Weather Instrument • The Instrument Trade and Consumers • Interpreting the “Oraculous Glasses”


5.         Sensibility and Climatic Pathology 

            The Hippocratic Revival • Aerial Sensitivity and Social Change • The Politics of Atmospheric Reform


6.         Climate and Civilization 

            The Enlightenment Debate on Climate • Medicine and the Colonial Situation • America: Climate and Destiny


            Conclusion: The Science of Weather 


Notes •  Bibliography •  Index

Product Details

Golinski, Jan
University of Chicago Press
Earth Sciences - Meteorology & Climatology
Europe - Great Britain - General
History of Science-General
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
20 halftones
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Europe » Great Britain » General History
History and Social Science » World History » England » General
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Meteorology

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