Here I survey a sample of the essays and reviews on the sciences of the long eighteenth century published in this journal since it was founded in 1969. The connecting thread is some historiographic reflections on the role that disciplines—in both the sciences we study and the fields we practice—have played in the development of the history of science over the past half century. I argue that, as far as disciplines are concerned, we now find ourselves a bit closer to a situation described in our studies of the long eighteenth century than we were fifty years ago. This should both favor our understanding of that period and, hopefully, make the historical studies that explore it more relevant to present-day developments and science policy.
This essay is part of a special issue entitled “Looking Backward, Looking Forward: HSNS at 50,” edited by Erika Lorraine Milam.