Cultivating Women, Cultivating Science: Flora's Daughters and Botany in England, 1760-1860
"In Cultivating Women, Cultivating Science, Shteir weaves intriguing biographies of women botanists into her intricate account of Victorian culture, science, and society. This elegant book is essential reading for anyone interested in plants and science." -- Londa Schiebinger, Nature
In Cultivating Women, Cultivating Science, Ann B. Shteir explores the contributions of women to the field of botany before and after the dawn of the Victorian Age. She shows how ideas during the eighteenth century about botany as a leisure activity for self-improvement and a "feminine" pursuit gave women unprecedented opportunities to publish their findings and views. By the 1830s, however, botany came to be regarded as a professional activity for specialists and experts -- and women's contributions to the field of botany as authors and teachers were viewed as problematic. Shteir focuses on John Lindley, whose determination to form distinctions between polite botany -- what he called "amusement for the ladies" -- and botanical science -- "an occupation for the serious thoughts of man" -- illustrates how the contributions of women were minimized in the social history of science. Despite such efforts, women continued to participate avidly in botanical activities at home and abroad, especially by writing for other women, children, and general readers.
At a time of great interest in the role of women in science, this absorbing, interdisciplinary book provides a new perspective on gender issues in the history of science. Cultivating Women, Cultivating Science rediscovers the resourceful women who used their pens for their own social, economic, and intellectual purposes.
"Her lively assortment of womenspeaks to the diversity of a scientific world in some ways more pervasive of everyday society than our own, and... a complex ecology of women in science."--Abigail Lustig, William and Mary Quarterly
"Shteir's book bears reading and rereading, not merely because it is filled with a wide array of detail, but because it attempts to suggest a texture of women's lives in the nineteenth century that is far too poorly known."--Alan Rauch, Nineteenth Century Studies