Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

Work of the Course

Required readings and ancillary (recommended but not required) readings are listed in the syllabus.

Students are required to complete a weekly writing assignment. This is a brief (750-1500 word) paper examining the significance of an aspect of each week's assigned reading in illuminating the ultimate emergence of the concept of "technology" — and its environmental impact.

For their final paper and oral report, students will be asked to assess the validity of McKibben's argument in The End of Nature in the light of the historical record as revealed by our readings and discussions.

Books Recommended for Purchase

DeLillo, Don. White Noise. New York, NY: Penguin, 1999. ISBN: 9780140283303.

Hersey, John. Hiroshima. New York, NY: Vintage, 1989. ISBN: 9780679721031.

Jefferson, Thomas. Notes on the State of Virginia. New York, NY: Penguin Classics, 1998. ISBN: 9780140436679.

Jewett, Sarah Orne. Country of the Pointed Firs. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2005. ISBN: 9781593082628.

Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick. 2nd Norton Critical Edition. New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 2001. ISBN: 9780393972832.

McKibben, Bill. The End of Nature. New York, NY: Random House, 2006. ISBN: 9780812976083.

Smith, Merritt Roe, and Gregory Clancey, eds. Major Problems in the History of American Technology. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1997. ISBN: 9780669354720.



What is technology?

The history of technology — the concept, the word

Aims of the course

In-class reading: excerpt from Don DeLillo, White Noise, pp. 124-129

Discussion: What do we mean by technology?

2 Technology in America today
3 The enlightenment
4 Industrialization: A trans-atlantic debate
5 Technological dynamism
6 An epic of technological fatality (I)
7 An epic of technological fatality (II)
8 An epic of technological fatality (III)
9 The lost America
10 Ecological crisis (I)
11 Ecological crisis (II)

Student presentations

Final paper and oral reports