Visiting Scholar Presents Lecture About Popular Science in 18th Century Europe

Tombi photoDr. Beáta Dimák-Tombi, a visiting J-1 scholar from Hungary, will present a lecture titled “Literature of Popular Science in the Eighteenth-Century Europe” on April 3 at 1:15 pm in the ETC Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to all members of the University community.

Dimák-Tombi is a scholar of comparative literature working on the intersection of literature and science. She earned a PhD in the History of Italian Literature and Culture from the University Eötvös Loránd of Budapest. She has held several teaching positions in the Department of Italian Studies at the University of Pécs in Hungary, where she is currently an Associate Professor. Dimák-Tombi has participated in 20 national and international conferences, authored two books, and more than 40 studies. She has published numerous articles on topics including scientific and pseudoscientific discourse in Europe, literature of 18th-century Italy, and the use of metaphors in Italian poetry during the Middle Ages.

"I was studying in a high school where in the center of the curricula were natural sciences,” Dimák-Tombi said. “Although I chose a different direction, my love for biology and chemistry didn't change. I am really happy that I could find a field where literature and philosophy are blending with natural sciences, resulting in a fertile ground that is not science and is not literature anymore. The 18th century is the perfect period to study the formation of this hybrid branch of literature. Those who attend the lecture can follow the formation of the public sphere in Europe and can gain more information about that period, which roughly coincides with the period of the American Revolutionary War.”

Lecture Abstract: In the age of the Enlightenment, with its borning intellectual climate there was a great demand for new scientific information. The old-fashioned universities and the new scientific societies could not offer considerable insight into the progress of science. The greatest expansion in the literature of popular science was witnessed by 18th-century papers, which in a short period of time became the most important means of providing the reading public with information and guidance on curious new state of science, philosophy, and literature. 

Beside the taste-shaping role of the first magazines, similar importance will be dedicated even to that social and cultural background, which led to the formation of literature of popular science, making it different from scientific works. Cultural value of European coffeehouses and saloons will be also discussed, as well as the presence of a new, rising public: the female reader.