Ahmanson Undergraduate Research Scholarships

Up to ten undergraduate scholarships are offered every year to support undergraduate student research at the Clark Library. These are intended for UCLA upper-division students who enroll in a designated course (usually open to upper division students from any UCLA department). Program details, seminar descriptions and requirements, and application procedures are announced each year.

2015–16 Ahmanson Undergraduate Seminar

History 191-I : Books, Readers, and the Sciences in Eighteenth-Century England
Directed by Professor Mary Terrall (History), terrall@history.ucla.edu
Winter Quarter 2016, Thursdays 2:00–4:50 p.m.
Held in Young Research Library Special Collections

ENROLLMENT BY INSTRUCTOR CONSENT ONLY (see below for application instructions)

On successful completion, students receive a $1,000 scholarship, funded by the Ahmanson Foundation and administered through the Center for 17th- & 18th-Century Studies.

The seminar is an introduction to the history of science in this period, through the history of publication, dissemination, and controversy about scientific topics of interest to an audience of educated but non-expert readers. It is also an introduction to the history of the book and print culture. Students work with rare books (published in the 1700s) in Special Collections to explore how the sciences were presented for and experienced by non-specialist readers. Individual research projects culminate in a research paper.

Overview of the topic

Starting in the late 17th century and continuing through the 18th century, science became fashionable (and sometimes controversial) in Europe. Widespread interest in the sciences among the literate classes fueled demand for books accessible to non-specialists. Conversely, the fashionable appeal of subjects like astronomy, electricity, magnetism, geography, and natural history contributed to the growing cultural legitimacy enjoyed by the sciences. Many authors wrote for a mixed audience made up of ladies and gentlemen, prosperous householders, children, men and women of letters, subscribers to periodicals of all kinds, and government officials. Interest in the natural sciences was also related to a thriving market for voyage literature, books about exploration and travel (including scientific expeditions). Readings for the course include a variety of kinds of books, ranging from instructional books for children to books about scientific instruments for middle-class consumers to accounts of scientific expeditions. We also study the production and design of the books themselves, taking advantage of working with actual books read and used by 18th-century readers. We investigate questions such as: What did readers find so engaging about books on scientific subjects? What were the cultural consequences of this growth in the audience for scientific knowledge? What role did the sciences play in the expanding British empire?

The seminar is open to upper-division students from any UCLA department; no special technical knowledge is required. Interested students should send an e-mail to Professor Terrall (terrall@history.ucla.edu) with the following information, by Monday, November 16, 2015.

  • your name, major, and year
  • a list of any courses you have taken that prepare you in some way for this seminar, either in subject matter (history of science, literature of the 18th century, history of the book) or in research methods (any course with a research paper)

Enrollment is limited to ten participants, and those who successfully complete the course requirements receive an award of $1,000.

The annual Ahmanson undergraduate seminar is usually held 13 miles southeast of campus at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. Because of the closure of the Clark for a seismic retrofit, the 2015–16 Ahmanson Undergraduate Seminar is being held on the main campus, with students expected to consult the holdings of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library.

Questions about the program:
Center for 17th- & 18th-Century Studies
310 Royce Hall, UCLA