Taking science to the countryside: fictionalizing the country through novels for young people in early twentieth-century Portugal
This article addresses and discusses one of the first literary attempts to extend the communication of science to young people – agriculture being the case in point – through moralizing and educational novels in early twentieth-century Portugal. In this study, I show that a set of popular books on agriculture addressing horticulture, poultry farming, beekeeping, dairy farming, silkworm breeding, orchard culture and fish farming written for young people by the agricultural engineer João Coelho da Motta Prego – coupled with popularizing articles about agricultural policy and agronomy written by him in the daily press – clearly served the purpose of re-educating the Portuguese rural inhabitant and reviving the country's agriculture-based economy. The article showcases how locality drives the way science and technology are addressed, what is communicated, who writes for whom, and the purpose of the writing itself. It highlights how science popularization/popular science, in its various formats (i.e. science, technology and medicine), can be more than a way to teach science to a lay audience.