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Simon Schaffer

Professor of History of Science

Simon Schaffer was trained in natural sciences and history & philosophy of science at the University of Cambridge and Harvard University. He has taught history of the sciences at Imperial College London, at UCLA and at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and Sarton Medallist of the History of Science Society. His research addresses the practices, materials and organisation of scientific inquiry between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, concentrating on astronomy, natural philosophy, technology and the physical sciences. Recent projects include study of the activities of the Board of Longitude (1714-1828), the development of automata and calculating engines in arts and politics, the imperial dimensions of astronomical sciences in the age of capital, and the emergence of modern physical sciences through practices of global surveys. Schaffer has long experience as collaborator with museum and gallery projects and collections, and is currently a member of the advisory board of the Science Museum.

Selected publications


Nineteenth-century survey sciences, special issue of Notes and Records of the Royal Society 73 (2019), co-editor

Aesthetics of universal knowledge, co-editor with John Tresch and Pasquale Gagliardi (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)

The politics of technoscience, special issue of Radical History Review 127 (2017), co-editor

The Material Culture of Enlightenment Arts and Sciences, co-editor with Adriana Craciun (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)

La fabrique des sciences modernes (Paris: Seuil, 2014)

Trabajos de cristal: ensayos de historia de la ciencia, 1650–1900 (Madrid: Marcial Pons, 2011)

The Brokered World: Go-Betweens and Global Intelligence, 1770–1820, co-editor with Lissa Roberts, Kapil Raj and James Delbourgo (Sagamore Beach, MA: Science History Publications, 2009)

The information order of Newton's Principia Mathematica (Uppsala: Salvia Såmskrifter, 2008)

The Mindful Hand: Inquiry and Invention from the Late Renaissance to Early Industrialisation, co-editor with Lissa Roberts and Peter Dear (Chicago: Chicago University Press; Amsterdam: Edita, 2007)

Wetenschap is cultuur, with Steven Shapin (Amsterdam: Balans, 2005)

N01SE – Information and Transformation, co-editor (Cambridge: Kettle's Yard, 2000)

The Sciences in Enlightened Europe, co-editor with William Clark and Jan Golinski (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1999)

From Physics to Anthropology and Back Again (Cambridge: Prickly Pear Press, 1994)

William Whewell: A Composite Portrait, co-editor with Menachem Fisch (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991)

Robert Hooke: New Studies, co-editor with Michael Hunter (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 1989)

The Uses of Experiment: Studies in the Natural Sciences, co-editor with David Gooding and Trevor Pinch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989)

Leviathan and the Air Pump: Hobbes, Boyle and the Experimental Life, with Steven Shapin (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985; 2nd edition with new introduction 2011)

Simon Schaffer