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Research interests

My current research projects are: (i) Dr. Thomas Beddoes (1760-1808) and his circle. This study involves chemistry, medicine, politics, scientific institutions, and instruments. Beddoes was a radical and a democrat in politics, at a time when English responses to the French Revolution made such politics suspect; he was a questioning supporter of the new French chemistry; he collaborated with James Watt in the development of pneumatic medicine; and Watt and other members of the Lunar Society funded his Pneumatic Institution, a centre for experimental medicine and medical research. (ii) The role of instrumentation in the development of chemistry from 1750 to 1830. Surviving instruments are an important source of evidence for this study, as are contemporary accounts of their design and use. I aim to shed light on the reciprocal influence of apparatus and chemical concepts in the decades surrounding the Chemical Revolution. (iii) On the back burner for the moment is an edition of the journal of Henry Wemyss Feilden, naturalist on HMS Alert in its voyage to the north-east of Ellesmere Island in 1875-76.

Selected publications

I have written and edited thirteen books, including Transforming Matter: A History of Chemistry from Alchemy to the Buckyball (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001); Instruments and Experimentation in the History of Chemistry (MIT Press, 2000), ed. with F. L. Holmes; Chemists and Chemistry in Science & Society 1750-1878 (Variorum, 1994); Science and the Canadian Arctic: A Century of Exploration 1818-1918 (Cambridge University Press, New York and Cambridge, 1993); Poetry Realized in Nature. Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Early Nineteenth-Century Science (Cambridge University Press, New York, 1981); Affinity and Matter. Elements of Chemical Philosophy 1800-1865 (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1971), reprinted in Classics in the History & Philosophy of Science, Vol. 12 (Gordon & Breach Science Publishers, 1993).

Supervisions

  • E. Weidenhammer

15 previous supervisions, including

  • H. Martinsen, French textile printing 1750-1820
  • M. Harris, The chemical bond from Lewis to Pauling
  • V. Boantza, Duclos and chemistry in the scientific revolution
  • D. Pantalony, Rudolph Koenig (1832-1901), Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894) and the Birth of Modern Acoustics, 2002
  • M. Hilbert, Pierre Duhem, Physics, and Neo-Thomism, 2000
  • R. England, Aubrey Moore and the Anglo-Catholic Assimilation of Science at Oxford, 1860-1900, 1997
  • J. Hubbard, An Independent Progress: The Development of Marine Biology on the Atlantic Coast of Canada 1898-1939, 1993
  • A. Ede, Colloid Chemistry in North America 1900-1935, 1993
  • S. Zeller, Inventing Canada: Victorian Inventory Science and Canadian Nationbinding, 1830-1880, 1985
  • M. Schabas, W.S.Jevons and the mathematization of economic theory, 1983
  • J. Langins, The Ecole Polytechnique (1794-1804). From Encyclopedic School to Military Institution, 1979
  • L. Stewart, Whigs and Heretics. Science, religion, and politics in the age of Newton, 1978
 

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