Professor Trevor Levere

Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology

Appointed a University Professor in 2006.

Professor Trevor Levere is internationally recognized as one of the world’s leading historians of science.

He came to Canada and to the University of Toronto in 1968, has written eight books and over eighty articles, and has edited another five books.  His scholarship has been recognized by election to academies in Canada, France, and the Netherlands, and by a D. Litt. from Oxford University.  He has been the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship (awarded on two occasions, accepted once), a Killam Senior Fellowship, a visiting fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, a Dibner Senior Fellowship at MIT, and visiting fellowships in Paris, Cambridge (UK), Barcelona, Göttingen (1996).  He is the editor of Annals of Science a leading international journal in the history of science.  Since its foundation in 1936, this is the first time that the journal’s editor has not been based in England.  He also edits Ashgate’s series Science, Technology and Culture, 1700-1945, and is on the editorial board of Archimedes, and of History of Science; he is on the advisory board of two other journals. He has supervised 16 doctoral candidates.  He has twice served a five-year term as director of the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (IHPST), and has helped to make it one of the strongest programs in the English-speaking world.

His research has been in a variety of fields in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  In the history of chemistry, his most constant focus in seven of his books, he has written about theories, institutions, societies, individuals, instruments and apparatus, sometimes highly technically, at other times within larger cultural, political, and social contexts.  His first publications were on the history of chemistry leading up to the chemical revolution of the late eighteenth-century, and about the debates that followed.  From the beginning, he has stressed the interplay of theory and practice, something that was accepted in physics twenty years ago, but was slow in affecting the history of chemistry.  Thanks in large part to his work, chemical practice and apparatus are now taken seriously by historians of chemistry internationally.  His awareness that chemistry was part of a social and an intellectual culture also informed his research, and his book on Samuel Taylor Coleridge (a serious student of chemistry) was a seminal contribution to the study of science and Romanticism, a field which has since burgeoned.  His research in that field enabled him to contribute extensively to the Coleridge Notebooks (especially volume 4), and also to several volumes in the Collected Coleridge, inspired and edited by Kathleen Coburn.  He has written extensively about science and the Canadian Arctic, where politics, science, national and internationalism, and the development of instrumentation are all important; here again, his work was pioneering, and has been important for subsequent studies, including the recent Champlain Society’s edition of the letters and journal of John Franklin.  He was also one of the first to explore the history of Canadian science, a field where his contributions opened the way for his students to become the leaders.  In every instance, his books have helped to define significant new problems and to open up new areas of research.

He has been an advocate for the role of the history of science in teaching science in high-schools, from his early videotaped lecture (on the history of quantum mechanics) to his keynote address in 2003 to the conference International History and Philosophy of Science in Teaching.  His undergraduate course on the history of chemistry was developed to give chemistry students a new perspective and wider understanding of their own discipline.  His book Transforming Matter will be published later this year in Japanese translation, for the benefit of Japanese science teachers who wish to use this history of chemistry in teaching chemistry.