HPS Colloquia 2013 - 2014

image of doorway with skeleton

The colloquium meets generally three times per quarter on Thursdays at 4:15
in the Lane History Building, Room 307, unless noted below.


  • Empires of Knowledge: Scientific Networks in the Early Modern World Workshop, May 2-3, 2014

    Stanford Humanities Center, Levinthal Hall
    Organized by Professor Paula Findlen

    Participants are:

    Marcelo Aranda, Stanford University
    Iordan Avramov, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
    Lydia Barnett, Bates College
    Daniela Bleichmar, University of Southern California
    Ben Breen, University of Texas at Austin
    Harold Cook, Brown University
    Ivano Dal Prete, Barnard College
    Nicholas Dew, McGill University
    Robert Hatch, University of Florida
    Elise Lipkowitz, AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellows
    Robert Morrison, Bowdoin College
    Massimo Mazzotti, UC Berkeley
    Adam Mosley, Swansea University
    Carla Nappi, University of British Columbia
    Carol Pal, Bennington College
    Kapil Raj, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris
    Jessica Riskin, Stanford University
    Dan Rosenberg, University of Oregon
    Matthew Sargent, California Institute of Technology
    Londa Schiebinger, Stanford University
    Pamela Smith, Columbia University
    Alex Statman, Stanford University
    Caroline Winterer, Stanford University

    Empires of Knowledge Conference Program, (PDF)

    All Titles and Abstracts (PDF)


Previously this year

  • Alexei Grinbaum, Laboratoire des Recherches sur les Sciences de la Matière (CEA-LARSIM), France

    "Uncanny Valley Explained by Girard's Theory"

    5:15pm, September 26th, 2013

    History Room 30

    (* Note start time of 5:15pm)

    We propose to explain the curve showing strong revulsion for near-perfect humanoid robots ("uncanny valley") with the help of Girard's mimetic theory.


  • Alexander Jones, New York University

    "The Sundial in Greco-Roman Science, Life, and Art"

    5:15pm, October 17th, 2013
    with refreshments beginning at 5:00pm
    Seminar room 112, Classics Department, Bldg 110

    Abstract: Sundials were the most widely produced and seen artifacts of astronomy in the Greco-Roman world. As well as serving the practical purpose of telling the hour of day and the season of the year, a sundial had a didactic and symbolic function as an image of the cosmos as a sphere in motion.


  • Jo Guldi, Brown University

    "Maps Before and After the Smartphone: A Global History, 1968-2013"

    4:15pm, Oct 24, 2013 History Building Room 303

    Co-Sponsored by History and the STS Program

    Abstract: Can participatory maps save the world? Where did the crowd-sourced map come from, and where is it going? Some point to Tim O'Reilly's conferences leading up to the launch of Google Maps in 2005, while some look backwards to development economists' work in Latin America in the 1990s, and still others point to the birth of ESRI among Canadian civil servants. Meanwhile, participatory technologies have been touted as a way to inject democracy into the inherently hierarchical structure of decision-making that has governed civil engineering and urban planning projects since the invention of those professions in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. The history of participatory mapping holds important stories about what it is we can expect out of a participatory technology, and how much it is right to desire of it.

  • Leah DeVun, Rutgers University

    4:15pm, Nov. 7, 2013
    History Building 200 Room 30 (not yet confirmed)

    "Closing Bodies, Curing Bodies: Hermaphrodites, Surgery, and the Medieval Science of Sex"

    Abstract: In this paper, I focus on "hermaphrodites" and the emerging profession of surgery in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. During this period, surgeons made novel claims about their authority to regulate sexual difference by surgically "correcting" errant sexual anatomies. Their theories about sex, I argue, drew upon both ancient roots and contemporary conflicts to conceptualize sexual difference in ways that influenced Western Europe for centuries after.

  • Antonio Barrera, Colgate University

    "From American experience to European books: The Spanish and English in the making of early modern science (1500-1600)"

    5:15pm, Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

    History Building, Room 13

  • Karl Appuhn, New York University

    Co-sponsored with CMEMS

    "Agrarian Reform and Public Health Environments in Eighteenth-Century Venice"

    January 23rd, 2014

    Piggot Hall (Bldg 260), Room 216


  • John Tresch, University of Pennsylvania

    "Learning Empire from the Former Colonies: Michel Chevalier's Letters on North America (1836)"

    ChevalierIn the early 1830's, two young Frenchmen separately toured the United States, a country still in infancy. But while Alexis de Tocqueville defined the USA by its virtuous farmers and small-town democracy, Michel Chevalier's Letters on North America revealed the coordinated creation of a vast commercial and technical infrastructure. Chevalier— graduate of the Ecole Polytechnique, former leader of the Saint-Simonian religion, and future architect of French liberalism— introduced his readers to a new mode of imperial power preparing to redefine the continent and the globe. This paper considers sources of Chevalier's views and suggests their consequences for France, its colonies, and our own understandings of the place of science and technology in the early USA.

    March 6th, 2014

    Lane History Building 200 Room 013

  • bay model

    Michael Weisberg, University of Pennsylvania

    "Without Water There is No Life: Learning from the San Francisco Bay Model"

    Abstract:In the 1950s, an amateur musical theater producer named John Reber convinced many powerful Californians that the state's water problems could be solved by damming up the San Francisco Bay. Against massive political pressure, Reber's opponents persuaded lawmakers that doing so would lead to an ecological disaster. They did this not by empirical measurement alone, but through the construction of a working hydraulic model of the San Francisco Bay. Drawing on the story of the Bay Model, this talk examines how models can tell us about the world and be used as guides in decision making. I will defend a similarity account of the model/world relation, and discuss how this relation can form the basis of a confirmation theory for idealized models.


    4:15pm, March 13th, 2014

    Lane History Building room 107


  • Carl Ipsen, University of Indiana

    italian smoking poster

    "Fumo: A Cultural History of Smoking in Italy"

    Abstract: This talk (and forthcoming book of the same title) explores smoking in Italy from the 1870s to the present day. Topics to be touched upon include smoking and the state, smoking and gender, smoking and fascism, smoking and the economic miracle, and the anti-smoking era. Among other things I'll explore possible cultural, social, economic and political explanations for Italy's relatively slow embrace of non-smoking. Sources for the research include trade journals, popular press, legacy documents, literature and film.


    4:15pm, March 20, 2014

    Lane History Building 200 Room 107


Previous Year's HPST Colloquia


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