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date: 16 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Whilst this chapter explores the variety of ways in which satire interrogated science during the Restoration and eighteenth century, it also challenges the accepted view of an antagonism between these two cultural practices. It demonstrates how satirists often transformed scientific ideas into witty conceits and vehicles of ridicule, and acknowledges that some of the most important satirists on science were themselves involved in scientific pursuits. Moreover, it outlines how irony, satire, and parody were sometimes deployed by natural philosophers themselves, since they recognized the distinctive rhetorical power of these modes within their intellectual and personal disputes. The chapter shows that satire made a significant contribution to the social circulation and validation of natural knowledge in this period, and that the recovery of this history should modify our reading of not only the wider relationship between literature and science, but also the cultural agency of satire.

Keywords: natural knowledge, natural philosopher, virtuoso, science as a satiric vehicle, scientists as authors and readers of satire, scientific essay, science in culture, Scriblerians, Robert Hooke, Samuel Butler

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