History of Science (HOS) Courses

Spring 2024

Technology and Society
Subject associations
EGR 277 / SOC 277 / HIS 277

Technology and society are unthinkable without each other, each provides the means and framework in which the other develops. To explore this dynamic, this course investigates a wide array of questions on the interaction between technology, society, politics, and economics, emphasizing the themes such as innovation and regulation, risk and failure, ethics and expertise. Specific topics covered include nuclear power and disasters, green energy, the development and regulation of the Internet, medical expertise and controversy, intellectual property, the financial crisis, and the electric power grid.

Instructors
Mihir E. Kshirsagar
Science and Medicine in the Early Modern World
Subject associations
HIS 294 / ECS 388 / GHP 394

This course explores how new developments in science, medicine, and technology shaped European cultures during three crucial centuries, from 1400-1700. During this period, knowledge of nature was transformed by the rediscovery of ancient texts, the invention of new technologies, and encounters with new lands and peoples. Political upheaval, religious Reformation, and the expansion of global commerce and colonization also affected how science was carried out, and by whom. From medicine and mechanics to alchemy and magic, this course examines the interplay between natural knowledge and human culture.

Instructors
Jennifer M. Rampling
Making America: Technology and History in the United States
Subject associations
HIS 295

This course will introduce students to technology in U.S. history, from the Colonial Era through the Twentieth Century. Throughout, we will consider how people designed, made, and used technologies in order to accomplish work, to organize society, and to make sense of their world. Warfare and agriculture; transportation and communication networks; plantations and factories; media, money, and information systems; engineers and other kinds of technologists: all will be explored, examined, and analyzed in order to understand the role of technology in making the nation.

Instructors
Emily Thompson
Race, Drugs, and Drug Policy in America
Subject associations
HIS 393 / AAS 393 / SPI 389 / AMS 423

This course examines ebbs and flows in U.S. drug policy, and how issues of race and identity inform the creation, implementation, impact, and dismantling of substance control policy. From "Chinese opium" in the 19th c. to "Hillbilly heroin" (as OxyContin was once labeled) and from "crack" cocaine to menthol cigarettes and marijuana, we examine the forces shaping drug policies, how policies are transformed, why they change, and what drug laws reveal about society. We also examine how social, political, and economic circumstances shape drug policies, and how the US built a vast system governing people and the substances they can and cannot use.

Instructors
Keith A. Wailoo
History of Biology
Subject associations
HIS 396

What is life? This course looks at how scientists have answered that question since 1750, while considering the cultural context and social impact of the biological knowledge they generated. We will pay particular attention to how specific organisms, materials, and instruments have altered the course of research into and conceptions of life. Topics include natural history, cell theory, eugenics and its relationship to genetics, evolution and Darwin's contribution of natural selection, the changing understanding of race in life science, ecology, molecular biology, biotechnology, and genomics/proteomics.

Instructors
Angela N. Creager
Broken Brains, Shattered Minds
Subject associations
HIS 494

In this upper-level undergraduate seminar, we will explore the making of the medicine of mind and brain, paying particular attention to the complex relationship between biological investigations of the brain and subjective experience of mental and neurological illness. We will look at patient memoirs; therapeutic regimes (including drugs and somatic treatments); psychiatric classification; trauma; mind-body medicine; the neuroscientific identification of brainhood with personhood; and anti-psychiatry, amongst others.

Instructors
Katja Guenther