Swift among the Scientists, ad infinitum: Towards a History of Reading and Allusion

In: Reading Swift
Gregory Lynall University of Liverpool

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This essay considers the afterlife of Swift’s works amongst scientists and science writers, uncovering the contribution that reading Swift has made to the culture of science. In particular, it explores a tradition of Swiftian allusion, quotation, and critical engagement within scientific writing from the mid-eighteenth century to the present day, and shows how such remediations have supported the social acceptance (or rejection) of ideas, the construction of professional and intellectual identities, and the cultivation of a popular audience for the sciences. Swiftian allusion has also been deployed by those critical of science, who have found in Swift’s caricatures provocative models for their own satiric figurations. Having remained part of the imaginative currency of scientific discourse for nearly three hundred years, references to Swift and his works can provide insights into the changing relationship between the sciences and humanities over this period.

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Reading Swift

Papers from The Seventh Münster Symposium on Jonathan Swift


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