Notes from the Ground Science, Soil, & Society in the American Countryside Benjamin R. Cohen

Yale Agrarian Studies Series
Publication date:
06 Sep 2011
Yale University Press
288 pages: 229 x 149mm
29 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

Notes from the Ground examines the cultural conditions that brought agriculture and science together in nineteenth-century America. Integrating the history of science, environmental history, and science studies, the book shows how and why agrarian Americans - yeoman farmers, gentleman planters, politicians, and policy makers alike - accepted, resisted, and shaped scientific ways of knowing the land. By detailing the changing perceptions of soil treatment, Benjamin Cohen shows that the credibility of new soil practices grew not from the arrival of professional chemists, but out of an existing ideology of work, knowledge, and citizenship.

Benjamin R. Cohen is assistant professor at Lafayette College.

"Among its many persuasive arguments, Notes from the Ground establishes that's America agricultural improvers were not empty vessels yearning for scientific advice from European chemists. Rather, their georgic framework combined with practical experiences meant that America had established the organizations, rhetoric, and forms of communication that became forums of 'scientizing the land' (p.145)."—Mark Finlay, Technology and Culture