Brown Bag Lecture: “Chemical Affinity in Eighteenth-Century British Mineralogy”

Brown Bag Lecture
Date: September 28, 2010
Time: 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.

315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Event Type: Open to the Public
Fee: Free
RSVP Online: No Registration Required

A talk by John Stewart

The doctrine of affinity, which says that substances have different levels of chemical attraction to various substances, was central to 18th-century experimental chemistry. Much of the work done on affinity thus far has focused on the theoretical chemistry of Newton, Geoffroy, Bergman, and Fourcroy.  

This talk focuses on the appropriation of affinity by those interested in chemical mineralogy. Drawing on the work of Ursula Klein and Matthew Eddy, Stewart will explore the ways in which doctors, fossil collectors, artisans and natural historians used affinity in the commodification of natural resources and at the same time contributed to a complex and ever-changing affinity doctrine.

John Stewart received a B.A. in letters, with a minor in the history of science, and an M.A. in the history of science from the University of Oklahoma. He continues to work on historical understandings of chemistry at the University of Oklahoma, now with a focus on affinity.  His dissertation, currently titled “Affinity across the Disciplines, The Centrality of Chemistry in 18th-Century Science,” will include analysis of both the appropriation and production of affinity theories in British agriculture, mineralogy, and physiology. When not working on his dissertation, John works for Isis bibliographer Stephen Weldon on the Current Bibliography database.

About Brown Bag Lectures

Brown Bag Lectures (BBLs) are a series of weekly, informal talks by CHF fellows and members of the academic and business communities on topics involving the history of chemistry, political and social issues of importance to chemists and chemical engineers, and issues affecting the future of chemical research.

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