Mark Hocknull spoke to us last week about the Victorian autodidact George Boole, most famous today as the inventor of Boolean logic and hence – along with fellow nineteenth-century luminary Ada Lovelace – one of the founders of our contemporary digital environment. Mark’s talk centred on Boole’s ‘On the Philosophical Remains of Bishop Grosseteste’, an unidentified, probably mid-Victorian offprint held in the library of the Lincoln Cathedral. Boole’s subject was the great twelfth-century Bishop of Lincoln Robert Grosseteste, who, like Boole himself, was a polymath – both a theologian and a (perhaps practicing) scientist. Boole identifies Grosseteste’s greatest ‘philosophical remains’ as his break away from syllogisms when examining the natural world: his move into a less rigid line of thought or argument in his works. At the same time, though, Boole was entranced that completely different methodologies could produce the same (correct) answer to a particular question, so that the Panglossian optimism that Grosseteste brought to his consideration of the natural world might yield similar results to Boole’s own more rigorously scientific investigations of, for example, lines and angles in the nineteenth century.
Mark Hocknull is Chancellor of Lincoln and Senior Visiting Fellow in the School of History and Heritage at the University of Lincoln, where he teaches history of science.
Roundel woodcut illustration of Robert Grosseteste, from a broadside depicting famous astronomers printed in Zurich in the sixteenth century.
Our programme for the autumn term is now confirmed! All meetings will take place at 4.15pm in Room MB1013 of the Minerva Building (previously the Main Admin Building).
1 October: ‘George Boole on Robert Grosseteste’ | Mark Hocknull (History & Heritage)
5 November: Panel – Approaches to Materiality | Jim Cheshire (History & Heritage), Kate Hill (History & Heritage), Hannah Field (English & Journalism)
26 November: ‘Boosterism: Place Promotion and Provincial Newspapers, a Lincoln Case Study’ | Andrew Jackson (Bishop Grosseteste)
Please contact me or Owen if you have any questions. Tea and cake for those who can make it, and – in case you were wondering – the pensive chap at top is George Boole, the illustrious Lincoln-born mathematician who is the subject of Mark’s paper on 1 October.
MRS TENNYSON: ‘You know, Mr. Woolner, I’m one of the most un-meddlesome of women; but—when (I’m only asking), when do you begin modelling his halo?’
This year’s Tennyson Society Annual Lecture will be delivered by Dr Robert Douglas-Fairhurst (Oxford) on the subject ‘At Home with Tennyson’. The lecture will take place on Saturday 14 June at 3p.m. at Bishop Grosseteste.
Robert is a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford. His last book, Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist, won the 2012 Duff Cooper Prize for biography.
At top, Max Beerbohm’s ‘Woolner at Farringford, 1857’, from Rossetti and His Circle (1922).
The University of Lincoln is investing over half a million pounds in new strategic research opportunities, including fully-funded PhD studentships to start in September 2014, and three of the available studentships include active members of the Nineteenth-Century Research Group on the supervisory team.
Professor Lucie Armitt, Dr Rebecca Styler, and Dr Martin Eve (all Humanities) are open to candidates proposing nineteenth-century research topics for the studentship ‘Gothic: Literary Travel and Tourism‘.
Dr Jim Cheshire (Art & Design) and Dr Hannah Field (Humanities) invite book-historical proposals related to the Tennyson Research Centre for ‘Tennyson in His Library: Reading, Writing, and Collecting Books in the Nineteenth Century‘.
Dr Kate Hill (Humanities) and Dr Anna Catalani (Architecture), whose proposed studentship is entitled ‘British Archaeology in the Nineteenth Century: Between Antiquarianism and Science‘, encourage applicants interested in investigating the history of British archaeology in the nineteenth century.
Details of application processes. funding packages, and a full list of studentships here.
Dawn Correia, a PhD candidate in the School of Art and Design here at Lincoln, presented work-in-progress on 12 March. Dawn’s PhD focuses in particular on the kaleidoscope designs of the natural philosopher and inventor Sir David Brewster (1781–1868), whose own intentions for a primarily scientific use of the kaleidoscope were eclipsed by its popularity as a toy and fashionable amusement. Utilising often neglected sources, including patents and scientific treatises, and high-profile collections of kaleidoscopes at the Museum of the History of Science at Oxford, the University of Exeter, and the Whipple Museum of the History of Science at Cambridge, Dawn traced historical, material, and theoretical contexts for the kaleidoscope in the period.
In addition to her doctoral work, Dawn is an artist-practitioner. Since 2010, her design practice has embraced her historical research into optical philosophical instruments; this is expressed through her creation of optical mixed-media small-scale sculptural pieces using ceramics, glass, and wood.
Carpenter kaleidoscope and cells. Photograph © Dawn Correia 2011. Courtesy of National Museums Scotland.