Teaching

Latour and his Interlocutors

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2023
This course will follow major debates and transformations in the history of Science and Technology Studies and allied fields by tracing the works of Bruno Latour through the network of his interlocutors. Topics will include early and later forays into history, anthropology, and laboratory studies, the emergence of Actor-Network Theory, the study of the Anthropocene, as well as engagements between STS scholarship and the arts.

The Epistemology of Collaborations

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2021
Science works through collaborations and yet our epistemology—how we gain and secure knowledge—is fundamentally tied to the thinking, perceiving, and acting individual. How should we understand the epistemology of collaborations, from a handful of scientists working at a lab bench to a 2500-person strong team at CERN? What is the knowing subject of a group working together? Who is, who can be responsible for the robustness of the result? From questions of credit to the security of the claims, collaborations present a host of problems for historical-philosophical understanding. The course will... Read more about The Epistemology of Collaborations

The Past and Futures of the University

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021
This seminar is aimed at exploring the changing structure, aims, and impact of the university, from early days through our present vexed moment to possible futures. The goal is to explore the foundational premises of why we have universities, where they come from and where they are heading. Each week we will explore a different facet of the university in its many forms, from the early, religious university through the growth of the research university—and all the ways it is has been transformed by war (hot and cold), corporatization, politics and social dislocation and unrest.

Critical History: Time, Cause, and Agency

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020
This seminar aims at exploring the underlying metaphysics of historical writing. Using Foucault (especially his meta-historical works) as our guiding thread, we will examine critically the assumptions that lie behind the idea of causal plenitude (that events all have causal explanations); time, continuity, dislocation. Positivism, historical-structuralism, objectivity will be topics, along with the tension between structural and agential historical argument.

Scientific Visualization: From Galileo to Black Holes

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2020
Visualization has been central to the development of science over the last 400 years. From diagrams and thought experiments through traces, photographs and film, the ability to picture, and reproduce, images of scientific phenomena has shaped our understanding of the natural world. This course will explore that history, philosophy, and sociology; how the scientific image has shaped standards of demonstration, opened up new ways of knowing, and accompanied the development of the very idea of objectivity.

Scientific Sites

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2019
This course aims to explore scientific-technical sites—places of research, production, teaching, testing, and disposal. Some may be historical (such as disused Cold War relics), others in current use. How are these places shaped by the work that goes in them; how do the sites, in return, condition the work? Our sources will be a mix of site visits, texts (e.g. historical, ethnographic), and films (documentary). Each student will produce both a paper and a short cell-phone filmed video (no experience, we will teach all you need).

Science, State, Corporation

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2018
In the heat of World War II, the state for the first time systematically contracted universities to advance science and technology to pursue the war effort.  During the Cold War, the institutional and legal arrangements that facilitated the state-science relationship broadened to cover a vast range of disciplines and agencies, from the far reaches of theoretical physics to the most applied technologies.  This course will explore the major, ongoing post-Cold War shift in this arrangement: corporations and foundations now play a powerful role in directing and supporting scientific... Read more about Science, State, Corporation

The Einstein Revolution

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2017

Albert Einstein has become the icon of modern science. Following his scientific, cultural, philosophical, and political trajectory, this course aims to track the changing role of physics in the 20th and 21st centuries. Addresses Einstein's engagement with relativity, quantum mechanics, Nazism, nuclear weapons, philosophy, and technology, and raises basic questions about what it means to understand physics and its history.

Technical Lands

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2016
Over the last century, we have produced a new kind of scientific and technological landscape, one put to the uses of scientific, high-tech industrial, and military uses. From radio and optical telescopes to accelerators, nuclear weapons and missile testing areas, the land itself has taken on a new politics, complexion, economics, environmental justice, and even metaphysical status in relation to our encounter with it. We will look at the geography of these territories through the alternating lenses of anthropology, history, ethnography and science—comparing and contrasting industrial scale... Read more about Technical Lands

Filming Science

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2016

Examination of the theory and practice of capturing scientific practice on film. Topics will include fictional, documentary, informational, and instructional films and raise problems emerging from film theory, visual anthropology and science studies. Each student will make and edit short film(s) about laboratory, field, or theoretical scientific work.

The Physics of Fiction: Pynchon, Narrative, Theory

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2015

This course focuses on an extraordinary body of work by Thomas Pynchon, including "Entropy," "Crying of Lot 49," "Gravity’s Rainbow," and "Mason and Dixon."  By studying this work we explore Pynchon’s vision of modernity, but also important themes in the history of science and in philosophy. We will grapple with communication, surveying, and weaponization of science in the twentieth century on the one hand, and with clashing accounts of explanation on the other. How (for example) does one explain the pattern of V2 rocket-bombs exploding around London in World War II? Do we...

Read more about The Physics of Fiction: Pynchon, Narrative, Theory

Secrecy, Security, Surveillance

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2014

Over the course of the last hundred years-from World War I to the present-the world has assembled a massive system of state secrecy, censorship, security and surveillance. This course introduces the problem, tracking not only how the national and now global system of watching and archiving came into place, but exploring the consequences of this apparatus for identity, deliberation, and democracy. 

Digital Power, Digital Interpretation, Digital Making

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2012
Harvard is beginning a new initiative to explore the intersection of digital power, digital making and digital interpretation. This is a working seminar designed to explore these questions through a cluster of projects designed to cross theorizing with making. For example: What is the health of the internet and how could we construct ways to measure it? What might the next generation of digital humanities look like as it explores the crossover between digital and physical objects? How can digital filmmaking connect with new forms of interactive design and exhibition?

The Digital Self

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2012
Social theory, philosophical texts, and historical works help situate understandings of the human "self"; how do these and other materials shed light on conceptions and experiences of the "self" enacted in new digital technologies including the internet, surveillance, multi-person virtual games, and virtual realities? With attention to the implications of these new experiences for freedom of expression, theft and other crimes, democratic participation, and consumption, the course will include materials from law, history of science, and political and social theory.

Critical History: Curating Images, Objects, Media

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2011
Examines recent writings on material culture and collecting as part of development of "Tangible Things": an exhibition drawing from the collections of Harvard museums. Seminar combines critical curatorial work with production of short films.

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