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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: Mondays, 11.30am–1pm, weekly from 22 October (6 sessions)
Nick Jardine, with Geoffrey Lloyd, Hasok Chang and 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. There will then be discussion of the educational and polemical uses of histories of the sciences by scientists; and debate about the problems of anachronism faced by historians of science. Subsequent meetings will address the the roles of sympathy and antipathy in historical biographies, and approaches to the history of cross-cultural communication in the sciences.

Aims and Methods of Histories of the Sciences on Moodle

Images of Science

Lent Term: Wednesdays, 11am–12.30pm, weekly from 23 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.

  • Session 1: Historiography (Sachiko Kusukawa)
  • Session 2: Art and Science in the Dutch Golden Age (Dániel Margócsy)
  • Session 3: Comely Frontispieces (Nick Jardine)
  • Session 4: Media (Nick Hopwood)
  • Session 5: Paper Instruments (Boris Jardine)
  • Session 6: Student presentations/Round-table discussion (SK and others)

Ideologies of Science

Lent Term: Mondays, 11.30am–1pm, 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 educational, social and political roles. Ideological conflicts considered will include: radical agnostic John Stuart Mill vs conservative Anglican William Whewell on the methods of natural science and its roles in education and politics; 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 and democracy.

Ideologies of Science on Moodle