Course Meeting Times

Seminars: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session


MIT students must get the instructors' permission.

Course Overview

This course offers an introduction to the history and historiography of science from ancient Greece to the present. It is designed to serve as an introduction for those who have no prior background in the field and to deepen the knowledge of those who already do. We will consider how the history of science has responded to its encounters with philosophy, sociology, economics, and anthropology. Our readings and discussions will focus on determining what makes particular works effective, understanding major contemporary trends and debates in the history of science, and establishing resources for further research.

The aim of this course is not to become an encyclopedia of the history of science, but rather to become adept at analyzing and contextualizing arguments. The books in this course have been selected to cover key events in the history of science as well as key methodological innovations in the historiography of science. Questions of form (why does the author structure their book / chapter in this way) and questions of relationships (what common methods or questions are used in a book) will be as important as the historical content of the author's thesis.

Supporting Texts

For an overview of major events in the history of science see:
Bowler, Peter, and Iwan Morus. Making Modern Science: A Historical Survey. University of Chicago Press, 2005. ISBN: 9780226068619.

For an overview of the historiography of science consult:
Golinski, Jan. Making Natural Knowledge: Constructivism and the History of Science. University of Chicago Press, 2005. ISBN: 9780226302317.


Attendance and participation 30%
Book review 25%
Final review essay 45%