Light without Heat: Shades of Feeling in the Age of Scientific Revolution


ACLS Fellowship Program




If modern science first takes shape as the embrace of rigorous method, as one is so often told, then why do its original advocates and practitioners celebrate experiences of wayward abandon and “careless” inattention? This project develops a new perspective on the scientific imagination in seventeenth-century England by exploring essays, poems, treatises, and meditations that portray the languor of the drifting mind as an opportunity for insight. It argues that the abandonment of discipline is as much a part of the story of Enlightenment as the development of meticulous procedure. It also shows how literary, philosophical, and devotional writers discover formal strategies that invite their readers into the experience of receptivity they describe.