Geoffrey Cantor

Emeritus Professor

Summary: History of physics, especially optics in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Science and religion: especially Quaker and Jewish engagements with science

Geoffrey's early research was directed to the history of physics, especially optics, in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Starting with his 1991 book on Michael Faraday he has worked principally on the historical relations between science and religion and has published primarily on Quaker and Jewish attitudes to science.

With Professor John Hedley Brooke he delivered the 1995-6 Gifford Lectures at Glasgow, which were subsequently published under the title Reconstructing Nature. He was co-director, with Professor Sally Shuttleworth, of the Science in the Nineteenth Century Periodical Project.

Research Interests

  • History of physics, especially optics in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
  • Science and religion: especially Quaker and Jewish engagements with science
  • Science in the nineteenth-century periodical press
  • Biography, especially Faraday, and the role of psychobiography

Selected Publications

  • Religion and the Great Exhibition of 1851 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
  • (ed. with Thomas Dixon and Stephen Pumfrey) Science and Religion: New Historical Perspectives (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).
  • Quakers, Jews, and Science: Religious Responses to Modernity and the Sciences, 1650-1900 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).
  • (with Gowan Dawson, et al) Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: Reading the Magazine of Nature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
  • (ed. with Sally Shuttleworth) Science Serialized: Representations of the Sciences in Nineteenth Century Periodicals (Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press, 2004).
  • (ed. with Louise Henson, et al) Culture and Science in the Nineteenth-Century Media (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004).
  • (with John Brooke) Reconstructing Nature: The Engagement of Science and Religion. The 1995-6 Gifford Lectures at Glasgow (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1998).
  • Michael Faraday, Sandemanian and Scientist: A Study of Science and Religion in the Nineteenth Century (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1991).
  • (ed. with J. R. R. Christie, M. J. S. Hodge, and R. C. Olby) Companion to the History of Modern Science (London: Routledge, 1990).
  • Optics after Newton: Theories of Light in Britain and Ireland, 1704-1840 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1983).

Downloadable versions of papers freely available via White Rose Research Online

Other Activities

Geoffrey Cantor a member of the International Society for Science and Religion and of the editorial boards of Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Quaker Studies, and Science and Culture in Nineteenth-century Britain (the monograph series published by Pickering & Chatto).

He has been co-director of the SciPer (Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical) Project, working closely with Sally Shuttleworth, Jonathan Topham, Gowan Dawson, and Richard Noakes.

He now lives in London and has been appointed Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Science and Technology Studies department at University College, London.