Welcome to the 2013 HSS Meeting Proposal Page!


This wiki contains information from the 2013 HSS Meeting in Boston. Please do not add anything to this page.

Genetics, Prenatal Testing, and Reproduction

I would like to organize a panel on topics related to the ties between genetics and reproduction. I am particularly interested in reproductive decision making and the ways clients/patients and counselors/doctors negotiated this relatively new area of science and medicine. Since at least the 1940s, genetics has become increasingly ubiquitous in American’s everyday lives, but it raises important issues related to autonomy, access, and disability. These challenges are especially sensitive in relation to reproduction.

I will propose a paper that traces the development of genetic counseling in the United States and its relationship to medicine and prenatal testing between 1950 and 1980, with special attention to reproductive decision-making and understandings of disability and disease. I examine the social, medical, and scientific factors that shaped the nondirective philosophy that came to be the central tenet of genetic counseling.

I welcome any papers related to the topic of genetics (including prenatal testing) and reproduction in the mid-to-late 20th century. If you are interested in participating in this panel, please contact Adam Turner (University of Oregon) at: act (at) uoregon (dot) edu.

Developmentalism and the Human Sciences in Nineteenth-Century Britain--Commentator Needed

Broadly conceived, this panel explores the intersection of the human and natural sciences by examining theories of developmentalism throughout nineteenth-century Britain. By focussing on “developmental” theories of the human sciences, particularly in the realms of ethnology, historical writing, and social evolutionism, the panel gives further credence to Peter Bowler’s general thesis about the centrality of non-Darwinian models of nineteenth-century developmentalism. For instance, early nineteenth-century ethnologists developed theories of human development and classification that stressed an orderly and goal-directed view of historical and cultural change that would share little with the contingent and nonteleological view of evolution that is associated with the Darwinian revolution. Such developmental theories eventually competed directly with natural selection, informing the work of, for instance, comparative philologists and historians who were inclined to a directional, progressive, and purposeful view of early English history. Variants of Lamarckian evolution also remained central throughout the century, so much so that even Herbert Spencer, in the 1890s, was defending “use inheritance” in order to preserve both progress and purpose in his broader scheme of human development. From ethnology and early nineteenth-century travel narratives to mid-century comparative philology and historiography on to late century debates within evolutionary biology, this panel promises to shed light on little explored themes within the human sciences by examining the way in which a diversity of social theorists, historians, and men of science sought to classify and historicize “man” throughout the nineteenth century.
We are looking for a commentator for this session. If interested please contact Ian Hesketh at i.hesketh@uq.edu.au

"The Rise and Fall of the Department of the History of Science and Medicine at Yale University, 1960-1977"

by Margaret W. Rossiter, Cornell University

In January 1960 the Yale Corporation created the Department of the History of Science and Medicine in resonse to certain conditions and recent events: the Medical School had built at substantial historical library to contain the rare books of Harvey Cushing and others; a tiny Department of hte History of Medicine had existed at the medical school since 1951; its chairman Dr John Fulton had recently been awarded a five-year USPHS traineeship to prepare new historians of medicine; visiting lecturer Derek J. Price had recently delievered a series of well-received lectures on science and society; and the University was about to start its first major fund drive since the 1920s. C.P. Snow's recent well--publicized Rede Lectures at Harvard on the "two cultures" also hovered over the enterprise.
Despite this auspicisous start there were difficuties almost immediately, including the death of Fulton in May 1960. This created an unforeseen vaccum, since no suitable successor was found until George Rosen was appointed in 1968, and he was heavily absorbed in his own activities. (Two others declined after lengthy negotiations.)

Though the Avalon Foundation awarded Yale $500,000 for an endowed chair in the hsitory of science in 1961, and the fledgling department hired a series of other faculty members in the 1960s, when the USPHS grant was not renewed in the late 1960s two junior faculty members were let go. Then in the early 1970s two more were not allowed to come up for tenure. The situation lingered until April 1977 when the Corporation voted to terminate the department. (Ironically this was the very month that Prof. Martin Klein was one of just two historians of science in the country elected to the National Academy of Sciences--the other was Otto Neugebauer.)

What had gone wrong? Was it just money? What sort of money--fellowships? What might have been done differently? Recently-opened records cast some light on this episode which has never been fullly explained.

"Your Work in One Minute" Workshop

The HSS Graduate and Early Career Caucus is hosting a workshop on the craft of the pitch. How do you explain your research, passion and work in a minute or less? Whether you are seeking a job, grants or admission, the articulate pitch is a critical skill for the early careerist and established professional alike. This workshop session focuses on improving critical short-format communications in a workgroup setting. Participants will leave with more confidence and a short presentation on their own work.
We have initial confirmation that this event will feature the insight of Naniette H. Coleman, Assistant Director of Law, Government, Politics, International Relations, and Military Career Programming and Advising with Harvard's Office of Career Services. Naniette regularly workshops the topics of public speaking, perfecting your elevator pitch, and careers in public service for a variety of audiences. (Full bio here: http://www.ocs.fas.harvard.edu/stafflist.htm)
If you would like to facilitate or participate, contact hss.gecc@gmail.com

Industrial microbiology/fermentation science in global perspective - late 19th, early 20th century

We are looking to organize a session on the development of industrial microbiology and fermentation sciences at the turn of the 20th century. One of us will focus on the brewing industry in Germany and the other on the sake industry (and related fermented products) in Japan. Ideally, we'd like to include other national perspectives in the panel that focus on fermented beverages and other foods - but could also focus on other non-food products. Please contact John Ceccatti <ceccatti@sas.upenn.edu> if you have a project that fits this topic.

Situating the Human Sciences

(This panel is now closed to further applicants.) This panel will explore the relationship between organizational form and the ways in which the human sciences identified and approached their object of study. We are hoping to pay particular attention to styles of institutional rationalization, the gendered structure of organizational space, and the continued presence of race as a problem for the human sciences since the 1st World War.

Andrew Jewett of Harvard University will chair the panel and Jamie Cohen-Cole of George Washington University will be offering comments on the material presented.

Please contact Jason Oakes (oakesj@sas.upenn.edu) or Tal Arbel (talarbel@fas.harvard.edu) if you are interested in participating in this panel.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Histories of Epistemic Practice

This panel will explore how techniques of compression, repurposing, and reintegration have shaped epistemologies from the early modern period to the present. The automata, the contraceptive pill, the gene, human skulls and Descartes' vortices, -- all these are objects of knowledge that have undergone acute scientific and cultural transformation at the hands of new practitioners and changing historical tides. We want to push beyond objects (as interpreted by Rheinberger and Latour) and practices (as underscored by Woolgar and Lynch) to explore the interaction between the two. This panel will examine practices which aimed to transform a particular object from one "thing" into another. Our interest in such epistemological practices is threefold: how experts and non-experts have passed such objects from one discipline to another, one book to another, one place to another, or one medium to another; how, over the course of that process, they altered the objects of their investigation; and how those objects were reabsorbed by other practitioners and other spheres of knowledge. Though we borrow the EPA's slogan for waste management, we seek papers that make rigorous and imaginative use of these terms in order to illuminate specific historical reconfigurations. Some themes we hope to explore include: repetition, intermediaries, hiddenness/obfuscation, materiality/fabrication, and description and its discontents.

We will present papers on:
"Recycling Skulls, Reducing Exoticism: Drawing the Line Between Physical and Cultural Anthropology in Imperial Germany." Marissa Petrou (UCLA)
"Cartesianism, Chaos, and reductio ad absurdum: Gabriel Daniel's Voyage du monde de Descartes (1690) in an Age of Pictorial Reproduction." Melissa Lo (Harvard)
Please contact Marissa Petrou (mpetrou@ucla.edu) with a title and abstract.

Darwin Falls Apart: Evolutionary Alternatives and Evidence in the Late-19th Century

In recent years, the "eclipse of Darwinism" has become a contested term to describe the proliferation of evolutionary explanations at the end of the nineteenth century. Darwinian natural selection lost favor as the most persuasive explanation for the origin of species while a number of other evolutionary alternatives competed for recognition. Even Darwin himself changed his evolutionary narrative as new evidence and discoveries were brought to bear on the subject. What were these alternative theories? How were they presented to the public or naturalist communities and what evidence did they use? This panel is seeking one additional paper on evidence, evolution, and/or scientific reception of evolutionary ideas in the late-19th or very early-20th century. We are also interested in offers for commentator for this subject.

Current topics include deep sea marine invertebrate specimens from the Challenger expedition (University of California, San Diego) and Eimer's theory of evolutionary energy (Arizona State University). Please contact Rodolfo John Alaniz (ralaniz@ucsd.edu) with a title, preliminary abstract, and CV/academic website if you are interested in participating in this panel.

Authority in the Medical Sciences: Evolution of Disciplinary Practices in the Mid-20th Century

This panel will focus on historical moments in the mid-20th century during which practices in the medical sciences experience dramatic change. Specifically, how scientific theories of causation and attitudes of responsibility in society bring about such changes. Biomedicine at this time is characterized by a rise in the use of statistics and epidemiology, creation of new patient and professional group identities, and emergence of therapeutic and regulatory standards, which dramatically altered the medical landscape.

Papers should discuss changing practices in either the clinic or clinical definitions of disease or disorder, particularly as it relates to an historical shift in medical authority. For instance, one paper will focus on how changing views of autism’s etiology in the 1960s served a catalytic role in the reformation of the third revision of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-III).
Sean Cohmer & Erica O’Neil (Center for Biology and Society, Arizona State University)

If you are interested in participating in this session, please send an abstract to Sean Cohmer, (scohmer@asu.edu) by March 27th.

Private Lives, Public Reputations

This session will consider questions of family life and scientific reputations in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe. We have three papers and are currently searching for a fourth panelist or a commentator as well as a chair. My paper considers the Enlightenment astronomer Jérôme Lalande and his efforts to manage the reputations of his daughter, Amélie LeFrançois, who collaborated with him for decades. Lalande wrote often about LeFrançois in his correspondence and publications, and he developed an intimate and emotional framework for her scientific engagement, a framework that I argue implicitly countered arguments that women were too emotional, unintelligent, or dependent on their families to engage in serious study. The second panelist is Jennifer Pegg, who will be discussing the Herschel family, and particularly the somewhat controversial status of William Herschel’s cosmology and the varying ways he represented it in public and in private. The third panelist is Jessie Hewitt, who will examine the workings of the nineteenth-century Parisian private insane asylum operated by Marie Rivet, the daughter of the notable alienist Alexandre Brierre de Boismont, in order to assess the ways in which domestic ideology could influence the production of medical knowledge. If interested in joining our panel, please contact me with an abstract or your contact information by March 27th at mroberts@bowdoin.edu
Meghan Roberts (Bowdoin College)

Teaching History of Science Outside of History or Science

This session will focus on ways in which those of us who teach in departments or programs unrelated to history of science can bring history of science topics, readings, assignments, and interest into our classes. We currently have two participants who teach undergraduate writing courses and we are looking for one or two more participants with experience incorporating history of science into non-traditional classes. We expect this session to be heavily discussion oriented and hopefully full of good advice for new graduates.
Please contact Rebecca Kinraide at kinraide@bu.edu

Morphogenesis in the 20th Century

This session will address the topic of the shifting conceptions of morphogenesis in the 20th century. My paper will focus on the 100-year history of the enamel knot—the morphogenetic control center of the tooth. The history of this object nicely tracks different understandings of morphogenesis, and is an excellent reflection of how changing theoretical and epistemic commitments of morphogenesis within the scientific community can drastically alter the way in which scientific objects are interpreted. I seek proposals for papers that are grounded in the practice of experimentation, address the theoretical aspects of morphogenesis in the 20th century on a more philosophical level, or any other aspects of this topic.

If you are interested in participating in this session, please email Kate MacCord , kmaccord@asu.edu, with a brief explanation of your background and your abstract by March 27th. Individuals interested in providing commentary for this session, as well as those generally interested in the topic, are also welcome to e-mail me.

The Scientific Examination of Art and Archeological Artefacts

During the latter part of the twentieth century, many museums installed scientific laboratories for the examination and conservation of artefacts.It has now become standard to perform elaborate scientific investigations before making any alterations to museum pieces. Yet, until the Second World War, science was often mistrusted and neglected as a proper source for art historical knowledge. Scientists were often regarded to be unqualified to speak out on art, and their evidence was considered to be without any value to the real connoisseur or art collector. This confrontation of science and art brings out many interesting themes. The rejection of scientific arguments in art historical debates highlights the public perception of science and art as antagonistic forces, in much the same way as P.C. Snow's famous Two Cultures book. It also underscores debates on the nature of knowledge and the role of the public in endorsing the boundaries of scientific authority.

In this session we want to take a broad view on the interaction between science and art, from the seventeenth until the twentieth century. Possible topics may include the role of art academies, chemistry textbooks, and restoration studios, but also the views and activities of prominent scientists, such as Klaproth, Faraday, Pasteur, Pettenkofer and Ostwald, or the investigation of varnishes, pigments, microphotographs, X-ray shadowgraphs, etc. Thee session may furthermore pay special attention to early twentieth century attempts to found museum laboratories, among which in particular the Harvard Fogg Art Museum was a world pioneer. Anyone wishing to particpate in this session can send a title, with a short abstract and personal details to geert.vanpaemel@wet.kuleuven.be.
Geert Vanpaemel

University of Leuven (Belgium)

Stories about science: mediating between a reassuring past and an uncertain future

Whether we think of Whewell in the 1830s, heroic stories of Paul de Kruif in the 1920s, Soviet historians in the 1930s or Conant in the 1940s, or popular history today, stories about science are both about past and future. More explicitly than other forms of history, the history of science in the public sphere has been intended to draw upon past experience to clarify, in the words of the German historian Koselleck, the horizon of expectation. At times of uncertainty and concern these can be both reassuring and a guide. Indeed such concepts as "pure science" can be shaped explicitly by the need to draw upon a constructed past to clarify what is happening now.

This session is a home for papers about how stories from the history of science have been used to interpret contemporary experience and claims for the future in various cultures and times.
AT THIS TIME THE SLOTS IN THIS PROGRAM HAVE BEEN ALLOCATED. But please do attend the session in Boston!

Robert Bud
The Science Museum, London

Medieval Science

I would like to organize a session on medieval science. I am particularly interested in the medieval roots of the Scientific Revolution, interrelations between proto-scientific and religious/philosophical thought, artisanal/craft knowledge and scientific thought, and medieval experimental science. I myself would like to present on timekeeping and astronomy, though am happy to (merely) facilitate as organizer. Please contact ken -at- kenmondschein dot com.

Session on organismal adaptability in agriculture, conservation, ecology, and beyond

In an effort to predict and manage the biological consequences of shifting global and regional climates, scientists depend on understanding how organisms respond morphologically, physiologically, and behaviourally to changes in their environments. This has increasingly prompted discourse among ecologists and agricultural scientists concerning organismal "adaptability," involving concepts like agro-climatic adaptation, phenotypic plasticity, and genotype-environment interaction (GxE). We propose a panel that will explore the diverse ways in which organismal "adaptability" has been conceptualized and investigated, and the multifarious political, economic, environmental, and intellectual contexts -- at local, national, and international scales -- in which those conceptions have emerged and evolved. Our own research approaches these issues from the perspectives of the history of agricultural research systems, and the history of evolutionary population ecology. We welcome papers from all fields in the history and philosophy of science and technology and environmental history, especially those which challenge the traditional divide between theory and practice.

Marci Baranski & Erick Peirson (Center for Biology & Society, Arizona State University)
If you are interested in getting involved, please send an abstract to Erick Peirson (erick.peirson@asu.edu ) by March 27.

The Power of Analogies for Advancing Scientific Knowledge

Everyone uses historical analogies to understand current issues and to help make decisions about present-day concerns. Sometimes they use those analogies effectively, and sometimes not. The current debate over national economic policy is rife with historical analogies and sometimes even the same analogues are deployed to support differing positions. There is a long history of the use and abuse of analogs, offering perspectives on how they might be effectively employed in analysis of current challenges. A key work, but only one of them that might be cited, is I intend to structure this set of case studies along similar lines to those developed in Richard E. Neustadt and Ernest R. May’s classic text, Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision Makers (New York: Free Press, 1986). They offered a structure that called for analysis if each analog along three dimensions: what are the similarities with the present situation? What are the differences? And then, what are the implications of these similarities and differences? This session will explore the place of analysis using analogies to a set of episodes in the history of science. My own paper is focused on space science and terrestrial analogies employed to speculated about life in the universe. Are there others who would have an interest in this subject in the history of science? Please feel free to contact Roger D. Launius at launius@si.edu.

Natural history and natural philosophy in the 18th century

The distinction between natural history and natural philosophy--roughly, the observation of nature's effects versus the examination of her causes--was one of the most widely recognised borders on the map of knowledge in the eighteenth century. It was also one of the most frequently crossed: savants of all kinds, from academic chemists to gentleman geologists, freely combined collection, description and classification with the experimental pursuit of causal understanding. I am looking for contributions to a panel will address this paradox by examining the "hybrid" activities that mixed natural history and natural philosophy, the texts that insisted upon the distinction, and the relationship between it and other vexed eighteenth-century dichotomies, such as those between economies and spectacles, the lay and the learned, and the useful and the curious. I am as interested in papers dealing with theoretical statements of the distinction (such as that in the Encyclopédie of Diderot and d'Alembert) as I am in papers on how natural history and natural philosophy were related in practice. Michael Bycroft, mtb39@cam.ac.uk.

Twentieth-Century Expeditions and Excursions

This session focuses on field science in the Twentieth Century, across a range of scientific disciplines. A primary focus will be on the apparatus of field access - cars, airplanes, trains, ships, etc. - as well as supporting actors. The session is not focused so much on the field as a laboratory setting as it is on exploration and description. My paper will examine the Transcontinental Excursion of 1912 of the American Geographical Society of New York, a 54-day field trip organized by Wiliam Morris Davis, a Harvard geographer and geologist, primarily as a showcase for his theoretical work, using landscapes in the United States as specimens. A second paper will look at science as a justifying aspect of the American Everest Expedition of 1963. A third paper may consider biological research aboard a ship in the 1960s. We welcome a fourth paper in this vein. Please contact me at mhineline at ucsd.edu

International Relations and Technology Transfer / Scientific Communication; or National Security and Science/Tech in the 20th Century

Update: This is mostly full at this point, with the exception that a relatively senior scholar with interest in the intersection of international relations / diplomacy, science / technology, and national security would be very much appreciated either as a contributor or commenter. |||||||| I would like to arrange a panel on topics loosely related to the ties between international relations / diplomacy and science/technology. In particular, I would like to propose a paper comparing the British and French efforts to exploit German science and technology following the Second World War, especially the interrelations between their diplomatic side and the on-the-ground developments. Anyone with paper ideas related to the themes of tech transfer / scientific communication, diplomacy and science, or national security and science/technology in the 20th century, please contact oreagan@berkeley.edu.

Child Science – Neuroscience / Behaviorism – Human Sciences in Russia/USSR

I am planning to propose a paper on the role of behaviorist neuroscience (namely work on conditioned reflexes by the schools of Ivan Pavlov and, especially, Vladimir Bekhterev) in the history of Russian/Soviet ‘child science’ or ‘pedology’ (the cross-disciplinary, multi-professional movement devoted to bio-psycho-social research into child development and socialization) between the early 1900s and the late 1920s. I am considering discussing how the esoteric discourse of ‘reflexology’ was transposed and strategically (mis)translated across the various disciplinary, professional and institutional boundaries of ‘child science’, namely those of psychology, education, medicine, and state ideology/administration. I would be interested to form/join a panel that would dwell either on the history of ‘child science’ more generally or on the history of behaviorist neuroscience or perhaps on the history of the human sciences in Russia/USSR. If these themes link up with your work and you are interested in proposing something jointly please contact me at: andy.byford (at) durham (dot) ac (dot) uk

Catholics and Science in the Nineteenth Century

This panel will explore the implications of natural science for Catholics living in the nineteenth century. It seeks to attract papers addressing any aspect of the Catholic encounter with science in any regional context in the hope that transnational perspectives will prove fruitful for discussion and research. Jeffrey T. Zalar, University of Cincinnati, zalarjy@ucmail.uc.edu.

Science as an Agent of Continuity

We know a lot about how science contributes to change. Explaining change is the major concern of the vast literatures on the scientific revolution, evolution, nuclear physics and the atomic bomb, and the science/technology relationship, among other topics. We design our surveys around eras of significant transformation, and emphasize the biographies of scientists responsible for disruptive ideas.

But looking empirically, the bulk of scientific labor has actually gone into maintaining the continuity of established technical systems and social arrangements. I’d argue that while some geologists work on deep time or continental drift, most work on finding natural resources to ensure that existing manufacturing and energy systems can continue. Some atmospheric scientists study climate change; most engage in routine data collection and weather forecasting. Some psychologists seek to probe the unconscious and upend how we think of our selves; many more apply their knowledge to help existing companies sell more products and keep their workforces productive. Most of this science (maybe “technical work” is a better term) happens outside of the academy, and most of it doesn’t get published in journals—it may never be intended for public discussion at all.

Consequently, we don’t have very good maps to find where this kind of routine scientific work occurs, or flow charts to see how it has been managed and used. We don’t have accessible censuses of how many scientists are paid to apply existing theory to keep things going smoothly. We don’t have robust theories about how organizations use science to mitigate the impact of changing external conditions on their operations.

This session is a home for papers investigating questions about science and stability. How has science buttressed the authority of the powerful? What organizations have used science to keep things going, to support routine maintenance and operations? What kinds of technical expertise were deployed to reinforce existing social, political, economic and cultural orders? What has daily life been like for these technical workers? How do people try to use science to keep this world of flux the same?

Paper ideas can be directed to Roger Turner (TurnerR@dickinson.edu) by March 24th. Prospective commentators are also welcome, as is anyone interested in talking about these ideas further.

Tools of Global Governance in the Age of Revolutions: Paper, Maps, Statistics

Dear all,
I am putting together a session on Tools of Global Governance: Paper, Maps, Statistics 'in the Age of Revolutions. My own paper deals with the politico-technical career of writing paper in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries' Dutch empire. Central aim of the session is to explore how the production and usage of paper, maps and statistics co-shaped specific cultures of governance at different locales. In order to work toward a global perspective papers which include colonial bureaucracies in their narratives are particularly welcome. If you are interested in contributing a paper please contact me by 20 March at: a.weber@utwente.nl.
Best wishes,
Andreas Weber

How Did Nursing Become Science?

Emerging as a clinical practice in the mid-nineteenth century with the development of formal hospital apprentice programs and hospital diploma nursing programs, clinical nursing eventually shifted its education to college and university degree programs in the twentieth century. The professionalization of academic nursing, initially through doctoral degrees in education and social science, created a field for practices and discourses claiming space and epistemic authority as a unique nursing science (allied with but distinct from life sciences, social sciences, and medicine). This multidisciplinary panel will examine the development of nursing science in the twentieth century. Interested scholars should contact Thomas Lawrence Long, Center for Nursing Scholarship, School of Nursing, University of Connecticut, thomas.l.long@uconn.edu with a one-page proposal and a one-page vita, by March 28.

From the ground to Space (and back again to the ground): Some epistemological questions on the fabrication of satellite data.

I submitted a paper proposal dealing with how satellite data are collected, produced, circulated and stored, the dialog between satellite and other data sources, the standardization of calibration procedures, and the closure and validation of data, and how they have evolved over time. From a STS angle, I trace the networks through which data flow along space agencies, research teams and data processing centers, which in turn can help to understand how a peculiar set of relations was engineered among satellite data, other data, and scientific knowledge on climate.

These issues adhere the wider question of how an object is transformed into a blackbox (Latour), how we came to know what we know about climate (Edwards, Guillemot), the relationship between technological developments and environmental claims. Please contact me if your work suits any of these topics and you are interested in submit a panel: gemma.cirac@gmail.com