Surveying key moments from the 19th century to the present, this course tracks how networked communications, numerical calculation, symbolic reasoning, and information processing converged to create contemporary information technologies. The course introduces students to the major kinds of historical inquiry-philosophical, engineering, labor, material, social, gender, legal, and cultural-needed for studying information technologies in the last 150 years. Topics include Silicon Valley, software engineering, PCs, hacking, artificial intelligence, information, cryptography, outsourcing, privacy, information warfare, social networks, surveillance
In our contemporary world, science, technology, and medicine enjoy tremendous cultural and intellectual authority. This class introduces a set of analytical tools historians use to understand the origins and consequences of these ways of knowing, across space and time. We will discuss a variety of ideas and methods that describe the social, cultural, and intellectual conditions of possibility for creating knowledge about the natural world. In addition, the class materials invite students to reflect on the cultural and intellectual constraints that shape how societies determine which knowledge is worth pursuing and why.
This seminar provides a unique angle of studying Chinese history from antiquity to our present moment through the lens of medicine. Using China as method, it also aims at cultivating a pluralistic and historically informed understanding of medicine as evolving science, cultural system, socio-economic enterprises, and increasingly in the modern world a vital component of domestic and global governance. This semester, the thematic focus will be history of epidemic diseases.