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Graduate Seminars

The Graduate Seminars offer a sustained and systematic introduction to specific cutting-edge areas of research, led by leading experts in those areas.

Aims and Methods of Histories of the Sciences

Michaelmas Term 2019: Mondays, 11.30am–1pm, weekly from 21 October (6 sessions)
Nick Jardine, with Geoffrey Lloyd, Hasok Chang, Cristina Chimisso, Jeffrey Skopek

These graduate seminars will consider aspects of the history, aims, methods and current problems of the history of science. The opening sessions will give an overview of the formation of history of science as a discipline and of the range of recent approaches. Subsequent sessions will discuss uses of histories of the sciences by scientists, the pioneering work of Hélène Metzger on the methods and purposes of history of science, the relations between history and philosophy of science, and historical studies of cross-cultural communication in the sciences.

Participants will be invited to offer contributions and to suggest further readings.

Aims and Methods of Histories of the Sciences on Moodle

Science in Print

Michaelmas Term 2019: Tuesdays, 3pm–4.30pm, weekly from 29 October (5 sessions)

Understanding how the book is made is vital to the study of its contents, helping to locate its economic and social context, its audience, and ultimately its historical significance. Using examples from the Whipple Library's rare book collections, the manuscript holdings of the Parker Library, and the University Library's Historical Printing Collection, this series will explore some bibliographical techniques to identify and describe the structure and production of printed material from the manuscript era through to the hand press period (16th–18th centuries), and consider the uses and abuses of online derivatives. Although the focus will be on scientific texts and illustrations, these sessions will be of interest to book historians in all disciplines, and all are welcome.

The sessions on 29 October and 12 November will be in the Old Library; the session on 5 November will be in the Parker Library, Corpus Christi College; and the sessions on 19 and 26 November will be in the Historical Printing Room at the University Library.

Related events:

  • Exhibition: Treasures of the Whipple's Rare Book Collection
    Wednesday 23 October, 2pm–5pm, Old Library
  • Workshop: Working with Special Collections
    Thursday 24 October, 2pm–3pm, Old Library

Science, History of Science and Modernity

Lent Term 2020: Tuesdays, 9.30am–11am, weekly from 21 January (6 sessions)
Lorraine Daston

The discipline of the history of science originated with the claim that science made the modern world and our periodization still hinges on the premodern/modern divide. But recent scholarship, especially in global history, has challenged the very idea of modernity. We'll be reading both classical and current work on this question and discussing its implications for rethinking the history of science.

Reading list for Science, History of Science and Modernity

Images of Science

Lent Term 2020: Wednesdays, 11am–12.30pm, weekly from 22 January (6 sessions)
Sachiko Kusukawa, with Dániel Margócsy, Nick Jardine, Nick Hopwood and Boris Jardine

These graduate seminars will focus on the role of images in the history of science. Images have been central to observational practices, fieldwork, professional identities and scientific arguments. They contribute to our historical understanding of the sciences within visual culture, material culture, collecting and making, and the history of the book. Each seminar will be led by researchers who have worked extensively with images, and will be an opportunity to examine both primary and secondary sources.

Images of Science on Moodle

Ideologies of Science

Lent Term 2020: Tuesdays, 3pm–4.30pm, weekly from 4 February (6 sessions)
Nick Jardine, with Anna Alexandrova, Mary Brazelton, Stephen John and Richard Staley

These graduate seminars will explore rival conceptions of the nature of science and of its social and political roles. Ideological conflicts to be considered include: radical agnostic John Stuart Mill vs conservative Anglican William Whewell on the methods of natural science and its proper place in education; liberal Ernst Mach vs conservative Catholic Pierre Duhem on the history and prospects of the sciences; the Society for Freedom in Science vs socialist visions of the functions of science; the 'two cultures' controversy sparked off by C.P. Snow, champion of science education, and F.R. Leavis, champion of literary education; Philip Kitcher and his critics on science, feminism and democracy.

Participants will be invited to offer contributions and to suggest further readings.

Ideologies of Science on Moodle