Practical Genius: Science, Technology, and Useful Knowledge in Godey’s Lady’s Book

Meaghan Brewer

Abstract: This article explores the ways in which the popular nineteenth-century periodical Godey’s Lady’s Book challenges three binaries: the arts (or humanities) versus the sciences, domesticity versus the world of work, and ornamental versus useful knowledge.  Through an analysis of articles featuring content from what we today would refer to as the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, I argue that although the Lady’s Book is known primarily for its fashion plates, stories, and how-to guides, its inclusion of detailed, technical information and diagrams of scientific processes and innovations indicates that it meant to initiate women into a discourse about science and technology.

Keywords: science, engineering, technology, extracurricular education, literacy sponsors, nineteenth-century America, Godey’s Lady’s Book, useful knowledge


Brewer, Meaghan. "Practical Genius: Science, Technology, and Useful Knowledge in Godey’s Lady’s Book." Peitho 19.2 (2017): 251-81.