In Inventing Chemistry, historian John C. Powers turns his attention to Herman Boerhaave (1668–1738), a Dutch medical and chemical professor whose work reached a wide, educated audience and became the template for chemical knowledge in the eighteenth century. The primary focus of this study is Boerhaave’s educational philosophy, and Powers traces its development from Boerhaave’s early days as a student in Leiden through his publication of theElementa chemiae in 1732. Powers reveals how Boerhaave restructured and reinterpreted various practices from diverse chemical traditions (including craft chemistry, Paracelsian medical chemistry, and alchemy), shaping them into a chemical course that conformed to the pedagogical and philosophical norms of Leiden University’s medical faculty. In doing so, Boerhaave gave his chemistry a coherent organizational structure and philosophical foundation and thus transformed an artisanal practice into an academic discipline. Inventing Chemistry is essential reading for historians of chemistry, medicine, and academic life.
John C. Powersis collateral assistant professor in the Department of History and assistant director of the Science, Technology, and Society Program at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Medicine as a Calling
Didactic Chemistry in Leiden
The Institutes of Chemistry
Chemistry in the Medical Faculty
Instruments and the Experimental Method
From Alchemy to Chemistry
“Powers has written a biography and detail³•