Making Marie Curie
Intellectual Property and Celebrity Culture in an Age of Information
Making Marie Curie explores what went into the creation of this icon of science. It is not a traditional biography, or one that attempts to uncover the “real” Marie Curie. Rather, Eva Hemmungs Wirtén, by tracing a career that spans two centuries and a world war, provides an innovative and historically grounded account of how modern science emerges in tandem with celebrity culture under the influence of intellectual property in a dawning age of information. She explores the emergence of the Curie persona, the information culture of the period that shaped its development, and the strategies Curie used to manage and exploit her intellectual property. How did one create and maintain for oneself the persona of scientist at the beginning of the twentieth century? What special conditions bore upon scientific women, and on married women in particular? How was French identity claimed, established, and subverted? How, and with what consequences, was a scientific reputation secured?
In its exploration of these questions and many more, Making Marie Curie provides a composite picture not only of the making of Marie Curie, but the making of modern science itself.
1 Me, Myself, I: In the Interest of Disinterestedness
2 Scandal, Slander, and Science: Surviving 1911
3 The Gift(s) That Kept on Giving: Circulating Radium and Curie
4 Intellectuals of the World, Unite! Curie and the League of Nations
"Hemmungs Wirtén explores how the most recognized female scientist managed her 'brand.' In shaping her public persona, Marie Curie (1867–1934) had to balance not only her roles as researcher and wife and mother but also issues of nationalism and an agenda that straddled the pure and applied sciences."