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Maurice Dumas and the Making of a Discipline

Autumn, 1997

THE Museum has joined with the Maison Française in Oxford to organize an unusual half-day symposium. The symposium will take place on the 4th December at the Maison Française in Norham Road, under the title: ‘What is the History of Scientific Instruments? Reflections on Maurice Daumas, Les Instruments scientifiques aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles‘.

The symposium is inspired by the fact that Daumas’s book, published as long ago as 1953, remains a central account of the history of instrumentation. Speakers from France and England will be invited to reflect on the history of the work, its origins and anomalous position in the history of science, its continuing significance and its status as a foundational narrative of instrument history.

Published with this issue of Sphæra as an ‘Occasional Paper’ is a discussion of some of the issues that Daumas’s book provokes. In an experimental attempt to broaden the discussion, the Museum has also set up an electronic discussion group to promote comment prior to the meeting. Those without access to the Internet are invited to submit their comments by writing to the Museum, where they can then be forwarded to the electronic site by Museum staff.

Further details can be found in the symposium programme.