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Science at Oxford, 1914-1939: Transforming an Arts University

Jack Morrell

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ISBN 10: 0198206577 / ISBN 13: 9780198206576
Published by Clarendon Press, 1998
Condition: Good Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Science at Oxford, 1914-1939: Transforming ...

Publisher: Clarendon Press

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Good

Edition: 1.

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Synopsis:

Oxford University has not always possessed the high reputation in the sciences for which it is now renowned: it was not until the period between this centurys two world wars that science was firmly established in a university previously noted for its devotion to arts subjects. By 1939, despite only modest increases in the numbers of fellows or undergraduates in science, Oxford had developed an important new research identity. This transformation took place in the face of considerable opposition. The powers of the colleges, the poverty of the University relative to collegiate wealth, and the heightened individualism endemic in a polycratic university combined to produce academic conservatism which even in the early twenties, could argue that Oxford should cede science to Cambridge and concentrate on its more traditional strengths in the arts.

Jack Morrell shows how the innovators in the sciences coped with these idiosyncrasies and mustered a variety of resources, including government departments, leading industrialists, philanthropic trusts, and individual benefactors, to overcome academic inertia and to promote their subjects. Those interested in the institutionalization of science will find this study particularly important: it is the first book in English to examine the development of all the sciences in a major university of the twentieth century.

Review:

Jack Morrell's book charts the complex paths by which Oxford achieved its new status in science. Breaking new ground in exploring the development of all the sciences at this one institution over a quarter of a century, it stylishly and effectively addresses a serious gap in the literature on twentieth-century British science. (Jeff Hughes, BJHS, Vol 34)

J.B.M. rarely fails to pass on a good anecdote or pungent description from his sources (Jeff Hughes, BJHS, Vol 34)

Science at Oxford is a goldmine of information and a striking achievement. It will be indispensable for historians of twentieth-century British science and its institutions. (Jeff Hughes, BJHS, Vol 34)

Science at Oxford is a goldmine of information and a striking achievement. It will be indispensable for historians of twentieth-century British science and its institutions. (Jeff Hughes, British Journal for the History of Science, vol 34, No 121, June 2001)

Jack Morrell's book ... stylishly and effectively addresses a serious gap in the literature on twentieth-century British science ... the book offers a comprehensive and empirically luxuriant over-view of inter-war Oxford science ... In addition to its many scholarly virtues, the book had the distinction of being witty, entertaining and superbly readable. Morrell has an unerring eye for the telling historical detail, and offers both potted curricula vitae and insightful social and character vignettes of many of the key figures in the story. (Jeff Hughes, British Journal for the History of Science, vol 34, No 121, June 2001)

impressively detailed study. The opening three chapters provide an account of the context within which Oxford science operated and are essential reading for anyone who lacks a detailed knowledge of Oxford's unique system of university governance ... of value to all historians interested in twentieth-century British science. It constitutes a major contribution to our knowledge and understanding ... While it is likely that for many readers this book will act primarily as an authoritative source of information on individuals and particular disciplines, the breadth of its coverage ensures that the more persistent reader will gain far more from its insights. (Sally M Horrocks, Social History of Medicine, Vol 12, no 3 1999)

most readable history of science at Oxford University between 1914 and 1939. There are 927 footnotes, many of them with much biographical information. Noteworthy in a broader context is Morrell's fascinating chapter on refugee scientists ... Though crammed with dry facts, the interestingly written text makes persons and events come alive ... Dip into this intriguing history for a fact or two, and you may well find yourself scan-reading for an hour or more. (Rudolf Schmid, Taxon)

Jack Morrell has produced a meticulous and scholarly account of the events which led to the growth of scientific subjects between the wars in a university previously dominated by the arts and humanities ... an invaluable work of reference for the historian of the subject; it is also a fascinating study of 'Oxford behind the scenes'. (Dr John Sanders, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews)

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