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New Mexico State University Honors Program director receives NEH Fellowship

William Eamon, director of New Mexico State University's Honors Program and a professor of history, has been awarded a $40,000 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship to write a book about the withdrawal of science from "everyday culture" in the early modern world.



William Eamon, director of New Mexico State University's Honors Program and a professor of history, has been awarded a $40,000 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship to write a book about the separation of science and everyday culture. (New Mexi

The NEH announced Nov. 30 more than $21 million in grants that will support the research of more than 170 scholars and provide funds for humanities programs at colleges, research centers, museums and other nonprofit institutions. Eamon was the only New Mexico university professor to receive a research fellowship.

Eamon will take a sabbatical leave from July 1, 2002, to June 30, 2003, to work on the project -- a manuscript on the relations between science and everyday culture in the early modern period, 1500 to 1800. The book will document the gradual separation of science from everyday culture, which Eamon said he will argue is one of the characteristics of modernity.

"Science has become more abstract and separated from the ordinary world," Eamon said. "In the Renaissance scientists and lay persons alike tended to have a magical view of the body and nature, but science has brought about the disenchantment of the world in the 21st century."

Eamon will look at the impact of printing on popular culture, the "scientific" activities of the piazzas and marketplaces, and the medical practices and the natural world of rural people.

Eamon said he is negotiating with Cambridge University Press to include the book in its series of books on new approaches to European history. Eamon's book will be constructed for an undergraduate audience as a completely new look at the Scientific Revolution.

He plans to spend part of his leave time in Italy and Spain. In Spain, he will collaborate with professor Victor Navarro-Bretons of the University of Valencia on the study of Spanish Scientific Culture during the Golden Age.

Eamon is currently finishing a book titled "The Charlatan's Tale: A Renaissance Surgeon's World" about the life and times of the Italian Renaissance surgeon Leonardo Fioravanti. He says the book is partly historical and partly imaginative.