HPS Colloquia 2013 - 2014
The colloquium meets generally three times per quarter on Thursdays at 4:15
in the Lane History Building, Room 307, unless noted below.
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.
March 13th, 2014
Lane History Building room 107
Carl Ipsen, University of Indiana
"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.
March 20, 2014
Lane History Building 200 Room 107
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
Marcelo Aranda, Stanford University
Iordan Avramov, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
Lydia Barnett, Bates College
Paola Bertucci, Yale University
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, NSF
Robert Morrison, Bowdoin College
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, UC Berkeley
Londa Schiebinger, Stanford University
Pamela Smith, Columbia University
Alex Statman, Stanford University
Caroline Winterer, Stanford University
Previously this year
"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.
"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.
"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.
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.
"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
Co-sponsored with CMEMS
"Agrarian Reform and Public Health Environments in Eighteenth-Century Venice"
January 23rd, 2014
Piggot Hall (Bldg 260), Room 216
"Learning Empire from the Former Colonies: Michel Chevalier's Letters on North America (1836)"
In 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