Course Meeting Times
Lectures: 8 sessions for 15 weeks, 3 hours / session
This seminar explores recent historiographical approaches within the history of science. Students will read a wide variety of studies covering topics from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries, from the physical sciences to natural history and medicine. Emphasis will be placed on: deciphering different theoretical approaches; the pros and cons of different research questions, subjects, and sources of evidence; what makes for good and interesting history of science.
All readings must be completed before each session. Students will take turns leading discussions in the seminar. This will involve presenting an overview of the major themes of the readings and suggesting some possible lines of critique.
There will be two writing assignments:
- a book review of one of the books on the syllabus, 1500 words, due in the 4th session, and
- a historiographical essay, 7500 words, due in the final week of class. The historiographical essay will require students to read a series of contrasting works on the same topic, evaluate the contributions and limitations of each, and situate them within wider historiographic themes.
Historians must be able to read large amounts of material quickly, while still grasping the essential content. This seminar will provide ample opportunity for refining your skills. Reading loads will be heavy for each session. Practice active reading (also know as aggressive skimming). Be sure to absorb: the author's main arguments; how these arguments relate to broader questions in the field; the examples used to illustrate these arguments; the types of sources used to provide evidence; and the credibility of the evidence and arguments. Also pay attention to historiography: how do authors both characterize existing work and define the contribution made by their own work?
There is no textbook for this class.
||Institutions and Epistemology in Early Modern Europe
||Book Review due
||Science and Empire
||Presentations of Student Papers
||Historiographical Essay due