The Power of the "Trivial": towards a Multidisciplinary Future

The "History of Science Reader,” edited by Dagmar Schäfer and Angela N.H. Creager, reviewed by Shen Xincheng in The Paper/Shanghai Review of Books

"The History of Science Reader highlights the inspirational outcome of combining the history of science with general history and presents an interdisciplinary future. The book covers various topics and a diverse geographic distribution of research in the history of science with a selection of 12 articles published between 1990 and 2015. The uniqueness of this book lies in the fact that the selected articles introduce non-Western aspects into our knowledge of science transmission, and reveals a trend of scientific knowledge led by research projects based on microprocesses and material culture."Logo from The Paper

"In addition," the review continues, "the book makes a fruitful contribution to methodology and academic values by approaching scientific knowledge in a historical perspective. The methodological contribution of this book lies in its cross-disciplinary approach. Inspiration can be drawn from disciplines such as anthropology and technology."

Shen Xincheng continues in the review that the Reader "carries significant implications for the Chinese academic community by demonstrating the great power of the “trivial,” urging researchers of the history of science and technology in China to go beyond empirical research, connecting past and future, and different disciplines, towards integrating their work into the dynamic system of the global history of science. All early researchers in the field of the history of science, history of technology, and philosophy of science should pay extensive attention to the History of Science Reader, but the volume is also recommended to researchers from other disciplines."

About the History of Science Reader

The disciplines of the history of science, medicine, and technology are rethinking themselves in global terms. Part of this process involves questioning the purpose, themes and reception of translations in the globalizing discipline of the history of science.  In response, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG), together with the History of Science Society (HSS) initiated a collective reflection on some of the influential literature in this field published in English since 1990.

This History of Science Reader Project  encompasses three publications, two drawing on articles published initially in English, and one featuring articles originally published in Chinese.