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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


Departmental Seminars

Seminars are held on Thursdays from 3.30 to 5pm in Seminar Room 2. There is tea beforehand from 3pm in Seminar Room 1.

Organised by Mary Brazelton and Marta Halina.

26 January James Sumner (University of Manchester)
Garbage in, garbage out? A history of representations of computers in popular media
A variety of recent scholarship has traced the development of popular science through print media sources, exploring how characterizations of scientific phenomena evolve through interactions between authors' agendas, audience responses, and changes in publishing culture. Studies so far have tended to focus on 19th-century cases, seeking the origins of the familiar boundaries of 'science in public'. Here I apply similar considerations to an inescapably 20th-century phenomenon: the electronic digital computer.

The vision of computers as profoundly new and world-changing endured over a paradoxically long period, from the mid-1940s to the 1980s, in newspapers, magazines and an ever-growing range of introductory books. Although some authors harnessed the blank-slate rhetoric to revolutionary social, economic or educational manifestos, the conceptual content of the literature overall was interestingly conservative, returning repeatedly to a default stock of narratives, justifications and analogies. Some of these representations originated in wider, older discourses: fears that computers would destroy white-collar jobs were an obvious reincarnation of pre-digital tensions over mechanized deskilling. Others were consciously introduced to shape expectations: industry sources promoted awareness of the GIGO principle ('garbage in, garbage out') to affirm the technology as a neutral tool, doing only and precisely what it was told. Still others seem to have persisted by default without much underpinning intent: the remorseless tendency to explain binary arithmetic, to all audiences and for all purposes, endured for half a century. Ultimately, I argue, 'computing' in the popular imagination was only to a limited degree a product of its time.

2 February Andy Clark (University of Edinburgh)
Only predict? Conscious experience, and the scope and limits of predictive processing
The 'predictive processing' framework shows great promise as a means of both understanding and integrating many of the core information processing strategies underlying perception, thought and action. But this leaves many questions unanswered. What, if anything, does this deeply probabilistic framework have to say about the nature of daily human experience and (indeed) the nature and possibility of conscious experience more generally? Can a story that posits prediction error minimization as cognitive bedrock accommodate the undoubted attractions of novelty and exploration? Is it falsifiable? What is the true scope of this story – can it really be a theory of 'everything cognitive'?
9 February Tara Nummedal (Brown University)
Emblematic alchemy: Michael Maier's Atalanta fugiens (1617/18)
Written by the German physician, courtier and alchemist Michael Maier, Atalanta fugiens (1617/18) offers its readers an alchemical interpretation of the Classical myth of Atalanta as a series of fifty emblems, each containing an image, motto and epigram (in German and Latin), an accompanying fugue (or canon) for three voices, and a Latin discourse explicating the emblem's alchemical meaning. The parts of each emblem and the 214-page quarto book as a whole are meant to work together, with the music, image and text as an interlocking guide to alchemical theory and to the production of the philosophers' stone. In this talk, I will explore the role of sight and image in Maier's alchemical epistemology and situate his book in the visual culture of early modern European alchemy.
16 February Marion Vorms (Birkbeck, University of London)
On reasonable doubt
Jurors in criminal trials are instructed to bring a verdict of 'guilty' if and only if they estimate that guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt (BARD). This standard of proof raises intriguing epistemological and psychological issues, in addition to judicial ones. In this talk, I will take the juror's situation as a model for everyday reasoner and decision-maker, and try to extend the notion of reasonable doubt as a norm of reasoning and decision-making under uncertainty more generally. One important, and hard question, is how to draw a clear boundary between reasonable, and unreasonable doubts. After proposing a basic decision-theoretic account of 'reasonable doubt', I will challenge it on several grounds, which will lead me to clarify the picture of belief states and dynamics we need in order to account for this notion.
23 February Jonathan Birch (LSE)
Animal sentience and human values
The science of animal welfare provides an important context in which to consider the role ethical values should, or should not, play in setting appropriate burdens of proof. For example, if animals of a particular species can feel pain, but we fail to accept that they can feel pain when formulating animal welfare regulations, negative welfare consequences are likely to ensue. This has led a number of animal welfare scientists to argue that, with respect to contested invertebrate taxa such as cephalopods, decapods and cyclostomes, the precautionary principle should be applied and the burden of proof should be set intentionally low. However, this proposal has met with resistance from the biomedical research community. I offer a philosophical perspective on this controversy, and I attempt to extract some wider lessons regarding the relationship between science and values.
2 March Seminar cancelled
9 March William Ashworth (University of Liverpool)
The gifts of Athena revisited: protectionism, regulation and the British Industrial Revolution, 1700–1800
The British Industrial Revolution has long been seen as the spark for modern, global industrialisation and sustained economic growth. The emphasis of this paper is upon the British state and its fundamental role in the development of domestic manufactures, importantly, those at the heart of the country's precocious industrial trajectory over the course of the 18th century. This significantly dilutes the current popular view that it was a result of a unique rational culture and a set of favourable institutions.
16 March Deborah Coen (Columbia University)
Climate in word and image: science and the Austrian idea
One of the most urgent challenges of climate research today is that of conceptualizing interactions across scales of space and time. In her book in progress, Deborah Coen examines how this problem was addressed in the late Habsburg Monarchy, where scientists developed an unprecedented conceptual apparatus for tracking the transfer of energy from the molecular scale to the planetary. Her presentation will offer an overview of this project. The central argument is that these innovations arose in part as a solution to a problem of representation, a problem that engaged Habsburg scientists as servants of a supranational state. The problem was to represent local differences while producing a coherent overview; that is, to do justice to the vaunted diversity of the Habsburg lands while reinforcing the impression of unity. This problem was worked out at the interface between physical and human geography, and it stimulated technical innovations across a range of media, from cartography, to landscape painting, to fiction and poetry, to mathematical physics, while also shaping political discourse. In this way, Climate in Word and Image writes the history of climate science as a history of scaling: the process of mediating between different systems of measurement, formal and informal, designed to apply to different slices of the phenomenal world, in order to arrive at a common standard of proportionality. A focus on scaling emphasizes not only the cognitive work of commensuration, but also the corporeal, emotional and social effort that goes into recalibrating our sense of the near in relation to the far.

Twentieth Century Think Tank

The Twentieth Century Think Tank offers broad coverage of 20th- and 21st-century topics in the history, philosophy and sociology of science, technology and medicine. The regular programme of papers and discussions takes place on Thursdays over lunch.

Think Tank meetings are held on Thursdays, 1–2pm in Seminar Room 2. All welcome!

Organised by Richard Staley, Mary Brazelton, Helen Curry and Susanne Schmidt.

This term we will be exploring the interrelations between science and development, in conjunction with readings and discussion of this theme in the Twentieth Century Reading Group, which meets on alternate Thursdays.

2 February Simone Turchetti (University of Manchester)
The greening alliance: environment, development and the North-Atlantic Treaty Organization
Scholars focussing on 20th century international development programmes have revealed how they often aligned to a diplomacy agenda (especially during the Cold War) and modernist stances underscoring the merits of science and technology in treating under-development. But NATO, the foremost defence alliance in the Western world, has so far been virtually absent from these reflections. This paper considers how, from the late 1960s and following one of its major crises, development and environmental degradation took centre-stage in debates within the alliance. And it documents attempts to mobilize its member-states to either economic assistance or environmental protection schemes. Notably both types of intervention were tied to the promotion of novel scientific research, and especially international collaborative projects. The paper concludes that while eventually NATO opted for an environmental agenda, its 'greening' was actually a political restoration project rather than a true attempt to embrace environmentalism.
9 February Poornima Paidipaty (Faculty of History, Cambridge)
'The Grammar of the Semi-Exact Sciences': Norbert Wiener in India, 1955–1956
From September 1955 until April 1956, the MIT mathematician and father of cybernetics, Norbert Wiener spent 7 months as a visiting professor at the Indian Statistical Institute in Calcutta. According to his biographers Conway and Siegelman, his experiences in India had a profound influence on Wiener's later professional years. Yet little is known about this time period, which followed shortly on the success and acclaim of cybernetics, as a midcentury vision of techno-futurism. Between classroom lectures, Wiener spent much of his time working on a book manuscript, titled 'The Grammar of the Semi-Exact Sciences', on problems of nonlinear prediction. He promised his publisher that the book would serve as a splashy follow-up to his 1948 publication, Cybernetics. Though he never completed or published the book, the manuscript offers an important glimpse of Wiener's work on predictive analysis, especially when set in the context of India's rapid and uncertain postcolonial economic development.
2 March Nayanika Mathur (University of Sussex)
Disappearing big cats and multiplying man-eaters in the Indian Anthropocene
Species extinction as well as increasing levels of human-animal conflict are now widely considered two indicators of anthropic climate change. In this paper, I ethnographically locate and study these two trends in the Indian Himalaya in the context of leopards and tigers in an attempt to elaborate how climate change is experienced in a specific region of India. In the Himalaya there has been a reduction in the number of leopards and tigers over time and, at the same time, there is an ongoing perceived spike in attacks on humans by them. I describe how these two aspects are ascribed to climate change (or what could be understood to be climate change) by a range of actors. These include officials, conservationists, journalists, wildlife biologists, hunters, and villagers in the Upper Himalaya. Climate change discourse has been discussed as 'elitist and exclusive' (Beck 2012) and the absence of a wider acknowledgement of its imminence has been ascribed to a 'failure of the imagination' (Ghosh 2016). Political-psychological studies have argued the sheer enormity of the calamity that awaits us leads to active denialism (see Runciman 2014) while other works have shown the agents that have worked towards manufacturing scepticism or misinformation (e.g. Conway and Oreskes 2012). In lieu of such an approach that bemoans the absences of a deeper environmental and climactic consciousness, I work through an ethnographic engagement with disappearing big cats and multiplying man-eaters to argue that there are, in fact, wide ranging non-elite discussions of climate change and life in the Anthropocene in the everyday. What is needed is a finer attunement to stories and narratives that do not fit either the official, scientific discourses on climate change or the mainstream conservationist/developmental accounts that seek to protect big cats.
9 March Shen Yubin (Georgetown University)
The Anthropocene seen by the Anopheles: fighting malarial mosquitoes with chemicals in modern China, 1910s–1960s
What could the human malaria-vector Anopheles mosquito tell us about the Anthropocene in China? This paper intends to approach the Anthropocene in China by examining the origin, development and aftermath of malarial mosquito controls with chemical pesticides from the 1910s to 1960s. With the spread of germ theory and medical entomology from the West in the 1910s, mosquitoes were transformed from annoying but insignificant blood suckers to dangerous and must-be eliminated disease-carriers. Certain western chemical pesticides were also imported to supplement traditional Chinese measures and organic insecticides. In the Nanjing decade (1928–1937) and the wartime period (1937–1945), several major chemical pesticides were experimented with in government-led campaigns against Anopheles mosquitoes and malaria as part of state medicine and national defense. But it was only after 1945, with the introduction of effective DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), that chemical pesticides began to dominate in mosquito controls. These chemicals were widely used in health campaigns in PR China during the 1950s and 1960s. I will argue the massive usage of chemical pesticides is a useful indicator of the coming of the Anthropocene in China: it not only drastically reduced the distribution and population density of the Anopheles, but also released toxic substances into the environment: for example, DDT residues can still be found in fishes in certain locations. In short, this paper supports the view that the Anthropocene in China began about 1950.

Coffee with Scientists

The aim of this group is to explore and enhance the interface between HPS and science. Though many of us in HPS engage closely with science and scientists, we could benefit from more explicit discussions about the relationship between HPS and science itself, and from more opportunities for HPS-scholars and scientists to help each other's work.

We meet fortnightly on Fridays, 3.30–5.00pm in Seminar Room 2. Further information and reading materials will be distributed through the email list of the group; please contact Marta Halina (mh801) if you would like to be included on the list.

27 January Tom McLeish (Professor of Physics, Durham University)
Extracting new science from 13th century treatises by Robert Grosseteste
10 February Simon Conway Morris (Professor of Palaeobiology, Department of Earth Sciences)
Adrian Currie (Research Associate, CSER)
Animal cognition
24 February Daniel De Haan (Postdoctoral Fellow in Theology, Philosophy of Religion, and Neuroscience, Faculty of Divinity)
Philosophy and neuroscience
10 March Karoliina Pulkkinen (PhD Student, Department of History and Philosophy of Science)
Beth Singler (Research Associate, Faraday Institute for Science and Religion)
HPS and documentary filmmaking

Cabinet of Natural History

This research seminar is concerned with all aspects of the history of natural history and the field and environmental sciences. The regular programme of papers and discussions takes place over lunch on Mondays. In addition, the Cabinet organises a beginning-of-year fungus hunt and occasional expeditions to sites of historical and natural historical interest, and holds an end-of-year garden party.

Seminars are held on Mondays at 1pm in Seminar Room 1. You are welcome to bring your lunch with you.

Organised by Edwin Rose (edr24).

23 January Katrina Maydom (HPS, Cambridge)
Piety, diligence and learning: knowledge of American naturalia in Abraham Hill's commonplace books
How was knowledge of American flora constructed in early modern England? Influenced by a commitment to benefit the commonwealth and better understand God's creation, Abraham Hill (1633–1721) drew on classical and contemporary writers and reported experience to develop his knowledge of materia medica new to England. As a merchant, founding Fellow of the Royal Society and a Commissioner of the Board of Trade and Plantations, Hill occupied a unique position to draw on extant and commissioned sources of information about naturalia from the English colonies. By examining his ten volumes of little-studied commonplace books, we can gain significant insights into how he investigated nature and negotiated different authorities' knowledge claims to understand the properties of 'new world' plants.
30 January Sara Peres (HPS, Cambridge)
Preparing for doomsday: vulnerability and the contemporary history of genebanking, 1970–2008
In January 2008, the first shipments of samples of agricultural seeds were deposited within the reinforced concrete walls of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, in the Arctic island of Spitsbergen. This iconic repository, sometimes dubbed the 'Doomsday Vault', has a particularly interesting function as a 'safety back-up' for other existing genebank collections. Its existence therefore shows that, despite the ideas of security implicit in the 'bank' metaphor, the loss of genebanks, and of material within them, are substantial concerns of plant conservationists and policy-makers.

In this talk, I explore the contemporary history of genebanking by investigating how actors conceptualized the susceptibility of genebanks to catastrophes great and small, from conflict to lack of funding, along with proposed solutions to these risks through 'safety duplication', culminating in the establishment of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Concerns with the appropriate way to ensure the security of genebanks and their materials figure prominently in international policy discussions about how to organize and fund conservation, and I argue that they are important in shaping the contemporary 'global system'. The contrast between the potential vulnerability of genebanks and their remit of securing diversity makes evident that maintaining collections for the long-term involves technical, infrastructural and social challenges, and that their continued existence cannot be taken for granted. Thus, this account shows the value in being attentive to the role of concerns about vulnerability in shaping the evolution of genebanking as actors seek to ensure their continued existence.

6 February Edwin Rose (HPS, Cambridge)
The Endeavour journal and the natural historical working practices of Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander, 1768–1771
This paper examines the Endeavour journal of Joseph Banks (1743–1820) and how this manuscript diary, essentially a record of the day-to-day events which occurred during this voyage, is connected to Banks's and Daniel Solander's (1733–82) natural historical work. Throughout this diary, Banks frequently mentions the new species he and Solander collected and consistently refers to the printed works in the Endeavour library, showing the interconnectedness between different aspects of their collection. These printed works included their interleaved copies of Carl Linnaeus's Species Plantarum (1763) and Systema Naturae (1758), which were annotated as the voyage progressed by Hermann Spöring (1733–71), Solander's assistant. Banks and Solander's work during the Endeavour voyage sheds light on the emergence of professional fieldwork during the late eighteenth century and the gradual standardisation of natural historical working practices under the Linnaean system, which received an uneven reception by British naturalists at this time.
13 February Richard Bellis (University of Leeds)
Pathology and preparations at the Great Windmill Street School
Whilst William Hunter's vast collection of anatomical and pathological preparations has long been the subject of historical interest, how that collection was formed and used in the everyday work of the school has been understudied. The result is that historians have typically seen Hunter's series of lectures as being consistent in format and content across his career, and have drawn conclusions on his anatomical lectures based on this. However, a comparison of his early and late career lecture series reveals a substantial expansion in the content of the lectures. I argue that this was the direct result of the continued collecting of preparations, with both the making of preparations and the finished objects themselves acting as flexible tools for teaching and research at the school. Furthermore, as the overall collection grew, so did the opportunity to study pathology. The retaining of diseased parts from dissections and post-mortem examinations over the course of Hunter's career, alongside his assistants' collecting, allowed a range of morbid appearances to be seen and studied by them, as well as their students. This manifested itself in two ways: lectures on disease became a distinct part of Hunter's anatomical course, and Matthew Baillie's Morbid Anatomy (1793) utilised the collection to draw conclusions on changes in anatomical structure brought about by disease. I argue that the content of both the lectures and work by Baillie, both distinct outputs of the school, was the result of the regular practice of the school: that of making preparations.
20 February Ben Bradley (Charles Sturt University, NSW)
Natural history or psychology? Reading expressions and being read in Darwin's science of interdependence
Charles Darwin claimed to have been the first to approach 'the highest psychical faculties of man ... exclusively from the side of natural history'. It was on grounds of his practice as a naturalist that Darwin distanced his own studies of agency from those of contemporaries who overtly styled their work as 'psychology' (Spencer, Bain). What hung on this distinction? And what was it Darwin took from studying the economy of nature that he believed to illuminate mind and behaviour? Setting out from his crucial concept of 'social animals', I aim to show that natural history meant something more and other to Darwin than evolutionary ancestry, particularly when studying human agency: namely, the here-and-now of interdependence. My case-study is of Darwin's methods for understanding the meanings of non-verbal expressions as residing in their recognition by others. His theory of blushing takes this form of recognition to a second level (I read you as reading me). This dynamic of higher-order or 'meta' recognition proves to be the central principle in Darwin's explanations for the pangs of conscience and for erotic attraction.
27 February Boris Jardine (HPS, Cambridge)
Natural history and the antiquarian
The second half of the nineteenth century saw the rise of the 'New Museum Idea', a widespread increase in mass-audience museums containing both large research departments and extensive public galleries. The idea was given brick-and-mortar form in Cambridge on the 'New Museums Site' – the present home of HPS and former home of a suite of museums ranging across the sciences. In seeking to understand the development of these museums, and the revolution in university education to which they were tied, it is necessary to look at (at least) three things: the nature of their collections, the professional identity of their curators, and the intellectual agenda that united them. In this talk I explore the role of antiquarianism and local history in the shaping of collections of natural specimens. Antiquarianism, I argue, acted at once as a filter through which ever-growing collections could be passed and interpreted, and a robust social identity that could justify and even mask the radical nature of the new museums.
6 March Charlie Jarvis (Natural History Museum)
James Cuninghame – 'a learned and most industrious promoter of natural philosophy'
By any standards, James Cuninghame FRS (ca. 1665–1709) led a remarkable life. A Scot trained in medicine in Leiden, he participated in four voyages bound for Asia, as a surgeon or trader, and discussed his discoveries with major figures of the time in natural philosophy in London, notably Hans Sloane, James Petiver, Leonard Plukenet and John Woodward. He narrowly escaped death in attacks on East India Company (EIC) factories in Pulo Condore (Vietnam) and Banjarmassin (Borneo), and was imprisoned in France, the Canary Islands and Cochinchina, but he never failed to be an enthusiastic and conscientious collector, acquiring specimens of both natural and artificial objects (including hundreds of pressed plants, insects and shells, and watercolours of plants by native artists), as well as items of trade interest (tea samples, china clay, a scarlet dye, maps, a Chinese compass), wherever he touched land. Although probably best known as one of the first people to bring extensive natural history collections from China (chiefly from Amoy (Xiamen) and Chusan (Zhoushan)) to Europe, Cuninghame also made collections in the Canary Islands, Ascension, St Helena, the Cape of Good Hope, Java, Malacca, Pulo Condore and Cochinchina, all of which are among the earliest that survive from many of these locations. New research is shedding light on the contexts in which Cuninghame travelled. His Amoy voyage, for example, is now known to have to have taken place on an interloping ship rather than one belonging to the EIC – remarkable in the context of trade with China at this time.
13 March James Poskett (HPS, Cambridge)
Reading colonial photography: the publication and reception of A Phrenologist Amongst the Todas (1873)
This talk follows phrenological photographs as they travelled back and forth across the imperial world. As a case study, I take the series of photographs featured in William Elliot Marshall's A Phrenologist Amongst the Todas (1873). The nineteen photographs in this book were originally taken in the Nilgiri Hills, in southern India. Together, the photographs and text document the phrenology of the Todas, a pastoral hill tribe living in the Nilgiris. Marshall's book circulated widely. It was read by many of the most influential evolutionary and anthropological thinkers of the late nineteenth century including Charles Darwin, E.B. Tylor, Jean Louis Armand de Quatrefages and W.H.R. Rivers. To date, historians have treated photography in India as relatively disconnected from the wider world. But as I argue in this talk, the history of photography in India needs to be understood, like the history of colonial photography more generally, as part of a global history of material exchange. It was through circulation and reception that photography and phrenology became intertwined with evolutionary thought and colonial power.

History of Medicine

Seminars are on Tuesdays from 5.00 to 6.30pm in Seminar Room 1. Tea and biscuits are available from 4.40pm. All welcome!

Other History of Medicine events

History of Modern Medicine and Biology

Organised by Mary Brazelton, Helen Anne Curry and Nick Hopwood.

24 January Lukas Engelmann (CRASSH, Cambridge)
Picturing the unusual: medical photography as an 'experimental system'
21 February Steve Sturdy (University of Edinburgh)
Genomics and the industrialisation of medical tests, 1980–2000
14 March Jeong-ran Kim (Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, Oxford)
Malaria and the colonial frontier in Manchuria, 1905–1940s

Early Science and Medicine

Organised by Lauren Kassell and Dániel Margócsy.

31 January Seminar cancelled
14 February Tillmann Taape (HPS, Cambridge)
The craft of healing, city guilds and vernacular print: Hieronymus Brunschwig's medical manuals, c. 1500
7 March Jane Stephens Crawshaw (Oxford Brookes University)
The state of the environment: public health and technology in Renaissance Genoa

Generation to Reproduction

These seminars are funded by our Wellcome Trust strategic award in the history of medicine. Organised by Nick Hopwood and Lauren Kassell.

7 February Tamar Novick (MPI, Berlin)
Multispecies settlement in Palestine: the problem of infertility and the wonders of urine
28 February Zubin Mistry (University of Edinburgh)
Childless communities: early medieval monasteries and the history of (in)fertility


CamPoS (Cambridge Philosophy of Science) is a network of academics and students working in the philosophy of science in various parts of the University of Cambridge, including the Department of History and Philosophy of Science and the Faculty of Philosophy. The Wednesday afternoon seminar series features current research by CamPoS members as well as visitors to Cambridge and scholars based in nearby institutions. If you are interested in presenting in the series, please contact Brian Pitts (jbp25). If you have any queries or suggestions for other activities that CamPoS could undertake, please contact Huw Price, Jeremy Butterfield or Anna Alexandrova.

Seminars are held on Wednesdays, 1.00–2.30pm in Seminar Room 2.

Further details of the composition and activities of CamPoS

25 January Stephen John (HPS, Cambridge)
Wishful speaking: science, truth and dictatorship
1 February Adrian Currie (Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, Cambridge)
Why common cause explanation is not the main business of historical reconstruction
8 February Matthew Parrott (KCL)
Delusional cognition as explanation
15 February Hasok Chang (HPS, Cambridge)
Pragmatist coherence as the source of truth and reality
22 February Yang Liu (Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, Cambridge)
Towards a more realistic subjective decision theory
1 March Andrew Buskell (HPS, Cambridge)
Ecological factors of attraction and causal explanation in cultural attractor theory
8 March Christopher Austin (University of Oxford)
A biologically informed hylomorphism
15 March Remco Heesen (Philosophy, Cambridge)
Why the priority rule does not exist

Chinese Medical Traditions: Historical Perspectives

Mary Brazelton; Thursdays 10–11am, weekly from 19 January (4 sessions)

These sessions give an introduction to the historical study of Chinese medicine, a field that has recently undergone significant change and increasing engagement with the history of medicine in the West. The sessions begin with an overview of basic concepts and traditions, exploring canonical foundations and Daoist and Buddhist influences in the premodern era. In the later two sessions, we will discuss important transformations in the making of modern Chinese medicine, including imperial institutionalizations, the introduction of Western biomedicine to China, and the modern globalization of Chinese medicine. Each meeting will include discussions of important archaeological findings, texts, and other primary sources; optional sessions will include trips to the University Library and Needham Research Institute to investigate texts and objects of particular interest. Students need not have a language background in Chinese in order to attend, although optional readings in Chinese will be suggested; all are welcome.

Programming for Busy Academics

Shahar Avin; Mondays 3–4pm, weekly from 30 January (4 sessions), Seminar Room 2

Programming offers a remarkable toolbox for performing academic-related tasks, and advances in online learning and community support have made it easier than ever to pick it up. The sessions in Lent will introduce the various potential uses of programming in an academic context, key stepping stones required on the way to mastery, and the available resources you could use to build up this skill. Easter Term sessions would be focused on specific advanced technologies and problem-shooting tutorials to enable you to complete your own programming projects, be they a data-driven website, a computer model, a web-scraping tool or a text analysis script.

Science in Print II: Book Production in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries

James Poskett and Sarah Bull; Wednesdays 11am–12.30pm, weekly from 1 March (3 sessions), Whipple Old Library

Science in Print continues in the Lent Term with a sub-series of sessions looking at mechanized book production in the 19th and early 20th centuries led by experts from the Department's postdoc community, with a special focus on the following themes: production, illustration, and distribution. Attendance will not depend on participation in SiPI, but those wishing to gain a fuller understanding of book production should aim to attend both series if possible, since many of the techniques used in the mechanized period develop those establish during the hand press period.

For further information and to book a place, please contact Anna Jones (ahr23).

Twentieth Century Reading Group

The group discusses books and papers relating to the history and historiography of 20th-century science, technology and medicine, broadly construed. We meet on Thursdays, 1pm to 2pm in the Board Room. Organised by Susanne Schmidt, Mary Brazelton, Helen Curry and Richard Staley.

Everyone is welcome – feel free to bring along your lunch.

In Lent, we'll be reading:

19 January

Dana Simmons, The Vital Minimum: Need, Science and Politics in Modern France, Chicago 2015
Introduction, Chapters 4 & 7 ('Family, Race, Type', 'Science of Man')

26 January

Sigrid Schmalzer, Red Revolution, Green Revolution: Scientific Farming in Socialist China, Chicago 2016
Chapters 4 & 5 ('Chinese Peasants: "Experience" and "Backwardness"', 'Seeing Like a State Agent')

16 February

David Biggs, Quagmire: Nation-Building and Nature in the Mekong Delta, Seattle 2012
Introduction & Chapter 5 ('Modernization')

23 February

Nayanika Mathur, Paper Tiger: Law, Bureaucracy, and the Developmental State in Himalayan India, Cambridge 2015
Introduction, Chapters 2 & 6 ('The State Life of Law', 'The Reign of Terror of the Big Cat')

History and Theory Reading Group

We meet on alternate Fridays, 11am–12.30pm in the Board Room.

Scholarly Practice, Style and the Digital

What has the arrival of digital and network technologies done to styles of scholarship? This question has been asked of scientific practice by historians of science – by Jon Agar, Bruno Strasser and others. But technological change affects historians just as much as it does scientists, and so we wish to extend the analysis to our own practice. Using the concept of research 'style', we will discuss texts that reflect on scholarly practice, that deal with the arrival and development of digital and networked technologies, and that combine the two. To give structure to the year's reading we will follow the life-cycle of a piece of scholarly work, looking at Research in Michaelmas, Production/Authorship in Lent, and Audience/Users in Easter.

Organised by Boris Jardine (bj210) and Daniel Wilson (dcsw2).

Session 1: 27 January

Friedrich Kittler, Discourse Networks, 1800/1900, trans. Michael Metteer and Chris Cullen (Stanford University Press, 1987), pp. 177–205 ('Nietzsche: Incipit Tragoedia')

Lev Manovich, 'An Archeology of a Computer Screen' (1995)

Edward Tufte, 'The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint' (2003)

Session 2: 10 February

Frans van Lunteren, 'Clocks to Computers: A Machine-Based "Big Picture" of the History of Modern Science', Isis 107 (2016), pp. 763–776

Donna J. Haraway, Crystals, Fabrics, and Fields: Metaphors of Organicism in Twentieth-Century Developmental Biology (Yale University Press), Chapter 1, 'Paradigm and Metaphor'

Session 3: 24 February

N. Katherine Hayles, 'Virtual Bodies and Flickering Signifiers', October 66 (1993), pp. 69–91

N. Katherine Hayles, 'Print Is Flat, Code Is Deep: The Importance of Media-Specific Analysis', Poetics Today 25 (2004), pp. 67–90

Session 4: 10 March

Donna J. Haraway, Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium.FemaleMan®_Meets_OncoMouse™ (London and New York: Routledge, 1997), selected sections TBA

Science and Literature Reading Group

This term the Science and Literature Reading Group takes to the air, as we continue our series of meetings exploring the elements. We will focus on late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century pneumatics, from eudiometry to aeronautics, considering how air was philosophised, exploited, and consumed.

Meetings take place on Monday evenings at Darwin College from 7.30–9pm. Please note that this term we will be meeting in the ground floor seminar room of 1 Newnham Terrace. All are welcome to join in our wide-ranging and friendly discussions!

The group is organised by Melanie Keene and Charissa Varma. For recaps, further readings, news, and other updates, please visit our blog. We have also recently joined Twitter: you can follow us @scilitreadgrp.

6 February: Atmosphere

Joseph Priestley, 'Of Dephlogisticated Air, and of the constitution of the Atmosphere', from Observations on Various Kinds of Air (1776 2nd edn), Vol. II, 29–61.

20 February: Breath

Richard Polwhele, 'The Pneumatic Revellers; An Eclogue', in Poems (1810), Vol. V, iii–viii and 1–17.

13 March: Flight

Thomas Baldwin, Airopaidia (1786), as much as you'd like of 1–164 ('The Excursion throu' the Air'), especially 1–14, 29–59, 94–97.

Philosophy of Medicine Reading Group

This reading group is dedicated to new and old problems in philosophy of medicine. All are welcome.

Meetings take place on Tuesdays, 1–2pm, in Seminar Room 1.

Conveners: Tim Lewens, Stephen John, Jacob Stegenga, Anna Alexandrova

24 January

Skopek, Jeff 'The Nature of Big Data and its Implications for Privacy' (draft to be circulated – please email Jacob (jms303) for a copy)

31 January

Biddle, Justin 'Intellectual Property in the Biomedical Sciences'

7 February

Kincaid, Harold (2008) 'Do We Need Theory to Study Disease?', Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 51

14 February

Bennett Holman 'The Fundamental Antagonism: Veritism and Commerce in Medical Practice (1905–1920)'

21 February

Lemoine, Mael (2017) 'Animal extrapolation in preclinical studies: An analysis of the tragic case of TGN1412'

28 February

Christakis & Fowler (2007) 'The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network', New England Journal of Medicine
Barabási (2007) 'Network Medicine: From Obesity to the "Diseasome"', New England Journal of Medicine

7 March

Lippert-Rasmussen, K. 'When group measures of health should matter' in Eyal (et al) eds, Inequalities in Health

14 March

Sreenivasan, G. (2009) 'Ethics and Epidemiology: Residual Health Inequalities', Public Health Ethics (2009) 2 (3): 244–249

Philosophy and History of Physics Reading Group

The Philosophy and History of Physics reading group meets on Tuesdays, 4.00pm to 6.00pm in the Board Room. Organised by Jeremy Butterfield and Richard Staley.

The theme of the term is Black Holes. We will begin on 24 January with a historical study of singularity theorems by John Earman and continue on 31 January and 7 February with a survey article by Erik Curiel, on singularities, black holes and gravitational thermodynamics. Readings are available from Richard Staley (raws1) and Jeremy Butterfield (jb56), and later meetings will address group interests.

24 January

Earman, John. 1999. 'The Penrose-Hawking singularity theorems: History and implications'. In The Expanding Worlds of General Relativity, edited by Hubert Goenner, Jürgen Renn, Jim Ritter and Tilman Sauer, 235–267. Boston: Birkhäuser.

31 January and 7 February

Curiel, Erik. Forthcoming. 'Singularities, black holes and gravitational thermodynamics'. In the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.

Casebooks Therapy

Organiser: Leah Astbury
Sponsor and tutor: Lauren Kassell

'Casebooks Therapy' is an informal reading group for those interested in using the manuscripts of Simon Forman and Richard Napier in their research.

The aim of the reading group is the improve the palaeography skills of those who attend, as well as to provide guidance about how to make sense of Forman's and Napier's records. No familiarity with medieval or early modern handwriting is necessary, and the group is open to all. Attendees are invited to suggest a particular page or case from the Casebooks that they have trouble reading to work through collaboratively. Participants should bring a laptop. Please email Leah Astbury (la320) if you are planning to attend.

Meetings are held on Wednesdays, 4.30–6pm in the Department.

Latin Therapy

Latin Therapy is an informal reading group. All levels of Latin are very welcome. We meet on Fridays, 4.00–5.30pm in the Board Room, to translate and discuss a text from the history of science, technology or medicine, with the help of our Latin tutor, Maria Ramandi. This is an opportunity to brush up your Latin by regular practice, and if a primary source is giving you grief, we'd love to help you make sense of it over tea and biscuits!

To be added to the mailing list, or to suggest a text, please contact Tillmann Taape (tt311).

More about Latin Therapy

Manchu Therapy

The Manchu Therapy group meets fortnightly on Tuesdays, from 3.00 to 4.00pm, in the Board Room.

Manchu Therapy is an informal group for beginners and more experienced readers who would like to improve their skills. (See this brief description of the Manchus and the Manchu language.) Every other week, we will meet to discuss grammar and read a short text together.

For more information or to be added to the mailing list, please contact Mary Brazelton.

Greek Therapy

Greek Therapy meets every Wednesday during term time in the Board Room from 5.30 to 7pm.

We are an informal group for beginners and for experienced readers of Greek seeking to brush up their skills – all levels are welcome. Sessions usually involve a basic grammar session at the beginning followed by reading through a more advanced text. We will be reading selections from Aristotle's History of Animals and Generation of Animals this term.

For more information or to be added to the mailing list, please email Liz Smith.