Public Knowledge: Newspapers, Magazines, and “Shocking” Poetry
One of the more interesting questions that can be asked about the developments that occurred with torpedoes and electric eels during the 1770s is: Just how much of this information trickled down to the laity? This chapter surveys several sources of information. It begins with the London newspapers, since many of the key developments took place in that city and involved members of the Royal Society of London. Next it looks at a very important magazine, one known for its coverage of developments in science and medicine and with a readership extending well beyond the British Isles, namely The Gentleman's Magazine. It then examines poetry and literature from this era. Finally, the chapter considers how the word “torpedo” began to be used in everyday language with negative connotations.
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