The intersection of science and industry in the English Enlightenment is the subject of two books reviewed this week, Industrial Enlightenment: Science, Technology and Culture in Birmingham and the West Midlands 1760-1820 by Peter M. Jones and The Derby Philosophers: Science and Culture in British Urban Society, 1700-1850 by Paul Elliott.

Jan Golinski finds that taken together, these two books go a long way toward reconstructing the scientific culture of English provincial towns in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The science of the English Enlightenment emerges as more than just a dim precursor of the more formalized institutions that succeeded it. It was a distinctive form of cultural expression, rooted in the economic growth of particular urban centers and sharing in more widespread patterns of socialization and the circulation of knowledge.