Texts bear traces of complex struggles. For scientific texts, issues to do with the meaning of words and their reference are often where such struggles occur. In texts too identity is fashioned in the social realm and texts are woven closely into human cognition. The focus on how texts function to produce meaning, characteristic of recent literary theory, provides remarkable resources for locating these features in scientific texts. The project sketched here in a preliminary manner seeks to bring such resources to bear on Michael Faraday's writings and explores in Faraday's rich and reflexive “textual space” his persistent concern to stabilize the meaning and reference of words as well as the less conscious subtle complexities associated with the production of meaning. Both weave closely into his scientific theorizing and fashioning of identity.

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Author notes

Ronald Anderson is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Boston College. His research interests focus around the history of mathematical physics with a particular attention to the influence of mathematical cultures in the practice of physics. He is currently completing a manuscript: Interpreting Mathematics in Victorian Physics: Controversies on the role of Potentials in Electromagnetism