Dr James Sumner
Simon Building|Oxford Road|Manchester|M13 9PL
Imagine it is 1762, and you are a brewer. Another brewer offers to sell you a book he has just published, describing improvements to the brewing process. What are you thinking?
Perhaps you are impressed that he has written a book. Perhaps, though, you are suspicious. If his improvements work, why doesn’t he keep quiet and use them to get rich? And even supposing his improvements have worked for him: can you copy them successfully with only the book for guidance?
Now imagine a chemist invites you to a lecture course. Like the brewer, he claims to have knowledge that will improve your brewing; to stop too many rival brewers getting hold of it, he charges very large fees. You ask him how he can understand the brewing process, not being a brewer. He replies that the lessons of chemistry are universal, and include ideas no brewer would ever think of. Do you believe him?
These questions of credibility were at the heart of interaction between trade communities and the emerging professional sciences. My research looks at the various strategies used by both brewers and scientists to overcome them and create, by around 1880, a specialist discipline of "brewing science."
- Sumner J. (2007). Michael Combrune, Peter Shaw and commercial chemistry: the Boerhaavian chemical origins of brewing thermometry. Ambix, 54(1), 5-29. eScholarID:1c4806 | DOI:10.1179/174582307X165452
- Sumner J. (2007). Retailing scandal : the disappearance of Friedrich Accum. In Caleb A M (Ed.), (Re)creating Science in Nineteenth-Century Britain. (pp. 32-48). Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publications. eScholarID:3c179
- Sumner J. (2008). Status, scale and secret ingredients: the retrospective invention of London porter. History and Technology, 24(3), 289-306. eScholarID:1c7486 | DOI:10.1080/07341510801900409
- Sumner JB. (2008). Standards and compatibility: the rise of the PC computing platform. History of Technology, 28, 101-127. eScholarID:1c8237
PhD projects available
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