Kepler’s labors: Figurations of scholarly work c. 1600

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Kepler’s intricate trajectory, his self-reflective comments about the conditions of production of knowledge in his time, and the wealth of materials preserved make it possible to reconstruct a whole set of regimes of scholarly work around 1600, each with its typical mode of control, forms of subordination, temporal economy, and means of remuneration. Kepler’s maneuvering in this landscape was shaped by his attempts to carve out spaces for the kind of work he considered his very own – his “speculations” or “private studies” – within work relationships involving service and subordination. Thus, we find nonalienated, self-directed scholarly work embedded, constrained, and enabled by heteronomous regimes of work, a field of tensions that I seek to capture in the formula “work within work.” A labor history of science could thus offer us an opportunity for exploring historically documented, nonincidental and partly institutionalized forms of less alienated work, and trace the ways in which they related to and interacted with dominant relations of production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-496
Number of pages22
JournalHistory of Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • early modern
  • history of work
  • Johannes Kepler
  • labor history
  • social history

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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