Past Event

Jan Golinski - Synthesis Lecture

September 29, 2016
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Science History Institute, 315 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia

Join us on Thursday, September 29, as former Science History Institute Fellow Jan Golinski discusses his new book, The Experimental Self: Humphry Davy and the Making of a Man of Science (University of Chicago Press, 2016). One of the 19th century’s most famous men of science, Humphry Davy was known for discovering sodium, potassium, and other elements, and for inventions including the miners’ safety lamp. But he was an enigmatic figure to his contemporaries and has continued to elude the efforts of biographers to classify him.

Golinski argues that Davy’s life was a prolonged process of self-experimentation. He follows Davy through his youthful escapades breathing nitrous oxide and his self-fashioning as a popular scientific lecturer. He explores Davy’s dramatic discoveries in the laboratory and his authorship of a travel narrative that was also a work of speculative philosophy. What emerges is a portrait of Davy as the creator of his own identity through a lifelong series of experiments in selfhood.

The author will be happy to sign copies of his book after the talk.