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The Curious Eye
explores early modern debates over two related questions: what are the limits of human vision, and to what extent can these limits be overcome by technological enhancement? In our everyday lives, we rely on optical technology to provide us with information about visually remote
spaces even as we question the efficacy and ethics of such pursuits. But the debates surrounding the subject of technologically mediated vision have their roots in a much older literary tradition in which the ability to see beyond the limits of natural human vision is associated with philosophical
and spiritual insight as well as social and political control. The Curious Eye
provides insight into the subject of optically-mediated vision by returning to the literature of the seventeenth century, the historical moment in which human visual capacity in the West was first extended through the application of optical technologies to the eye. Bringing
imaginative literary works by Francis Bacon, John Milton, Margaret Cavendish, and Aphra Behn together with optical and philosophical treatises by Johannes Kepler, Rene Descartes, Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, and Isaac Newton, the volume explores the social and intellectual impact of the new optical
technologies of the seventeenth century on its literature. At the same time, it demonstrates that social, political, and literary concerns are not peripheral to the optical science of the period but, rather, an integral part of it, the legacy of which we continue to experience.