Welcome to the 2017 HSS Meeting Proposal Page!

This wiki is intended to help scholars organize sessions for the 2017 History of Science Society Annual Meeting at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto from November 9th to November 12th. Post your interests and ideas here to find other potential participants!

Instructions for Adding Topics:

  1. Click on the "Edit" button at the upper right.
  2. Scroll down to the bottom.
  3. Enter your information, using the following format:
    1. Proposed Title/Topic/Theme. Set the format to "2. Heading." Please be descriptive.
    2. Your name (Normal format)
    3. Your email address or other contact information (Normal format)
    4. Proposed abstract/description/discussion (Normal format). Please limit this to 200 words.
  4. Click the "Preview" button at the upper right. If it needs more work, please select "Continue editing." If it's ready to go, click "Save."
  5. If you find a topic of interest, please contact the author directly.

To access meeting proposal pages from previous years, please click on one of the following links: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013

Example Paper Proposal:

The Law and Fluidity of Identity

Keyser Soze

Generally interested in discussing how individuals manage identity based on context and authority.

Circulating Knowledge / Journals / Copyright

Aileen Fyfe

Is there anybody else out there who is interested in the way that copyright law (domestic, or international) has affected the circulation and dissemination of scientific knowledge? Or perhaps just about the circulation and reprinting of content from scientific journals? I know there are people working on patents, but I'm interested in the circulation of texts - mostly in the form of scientific journals - and thus in copyright. My own paper would be about the way the Royal Society (of London) promoted the circulation and reuse of the knowledge from the Philosophical Transactions throughout the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; and paid surprisingly little attention to copyright legislation until the late 20th century. Panellists who work on the 19th or 20th centuries would be welcome! Email me...

Scientific/Technical Knowledge in the Business World

Douglas O'Reagan

I'm hoping to find others interested in either a regular panel or roundtable on the overlap of business history (which I believe is going to bounce back in coming years from a somewhat-earned reputation for consisting solely of boring microstudies of individual firms) and the history of science/technology. I'm happy to play around with specifics of how we frame the panel to best fit a few papers. My paper will address how ideas of trade secrecy and tacit knowledge in technical areas have bounced back and forth between the business world and the world of academic philosophy since the 1950s, emphasizing the post-1970s period when "knowledge management" became a major business-school fad. Please get in contact ASAP at my email address above. Thanks!

Natural Things in their Environments: A Global Perspective

Anna Toledano, Mackenzie Cooley, Duygu Yildirim
naturalthingsproject@gmail.com, http://naturalhistory.stanford.edu

How did natural objects from around the world take on new meaning over the course of human history? We invite submissions for a panel that will take place at the annual conference of History of Science Society. Papers will explore how natural objects from around the world took on new meaning from antiquity to the present, across different environments, nations, cultures, and landscapes. This panel aims to bring together the study of natural history and methods of environmental historical analysis.
Please submit proposals of 250 words maximum and a short CV (1-2 pages) to naturalthingsproject@gmail.com by March 20, 2017.

Fact, Fiction and Popular Science

Geert Vanpaemel

Where does science stand in the current debate on post-truth and fake news? The history of science provides many examples of scientific narratives which have created alternative views of the world, confronting or confirming contemporary ideological opinions. From eighteenth-century physico-theology to Haeckel’s embryos, from wildlife documentaries to sociobiological explanations of human behavior, science has lend itself to the articulation of value-laden interpretations of social and political issues. In particular when science entered the realm of public discourse, science appeared to loose its claims to objectivity and neutrality. On the other hand, scientists have also spoken out on behalf of scientific truth, correcting mistaken opinions concering e.g. creationism or genetic determinism. This panel invites papers on the suggestive narratives produced by science and their impact on public debates. Please submit proposals of 250 words maximum and a short CV to geert.vanpaemel@kuleuven.be by March 20, 2017.

SESSION FULL - What difference does it make?: Comparative methods in the life sciences
Rachel Mason Dentinger

Comparison has long been a methodological mainstay of the life sciences. Whether comparing the skeletal structures of different species, the likelihood of different phylogenetic trees, the composition of geographically isolated populations, or the sequences of different molecules, comparative methods can be found in almost every biologist’s tool chest. This session will address a variety of ways that comparison has been used in different life science settings, on scales ranging from the micro- to the macroscopic. How does comparison vary when used for different purposes or on different types of data? How do its practitioners perceive the strengths and limitations of their comparative methods? And what sorts of conclusions do comparisons enable researchers to draw about their research subjects? These are just a few of the questions that we could address in this session.

I would consider a broad range of scales, disciplines (including biomedicine and the behavioural sciences), and time periods, and I will rewrite the abstract as appropriate. My own paper will address the practice of “comparative parasitology” in the 20th century. Please email me at rachel.mason.dentinger@utah.edu with a brief description of your proposed paper prior to the 31st of March.

The Edge of Human

Clare Griffin

Humans have often considered what the limits, the outer boundaries, of humanity are; what binds humanity together, and what divides it from the rest of the universe. A major aspect of such debates has been human bodies, their nature and purposes. Early modern Europeans were concerned with people eating people as a measure of the (in)humanity of both the eaters and the eaten. In the nineteenth century, the rise of machines led to discussions as to the similarities these whirring, ticking things had to the busyness of humanity, and conversely, to debates over whether humans should be understood as a kind of machine. Twentieth century biomedicine provided the means to insert parts of human and animal corpses into living humans, raising the issue of the physical unity or disunity of the human body. This panel brings together these diverse case-studies to re-examine the limitations of human bodies, and interrogate how shifting ideas about the purposes and nature of bodies impacted ideas about the edges of humanity.

I would be happy to consider any paper considering the idea of what the boundaries of humanity are in any region or period. If you would be interested in contributing a paper to this panel, please contact me at the above address by Sunday, 26th March.

Early Reception of Science-Religion Narratives at the End of the Nineteenth Century

James C. Ungureanu

Many thinkers at the end of the nineteenth century were attempting to find some solution to what they perceived was a conflict between religion and science. The public reception of these attempts have not been studied. This panel is looking for papers on this reception. We invite papers for the panel that cover the whole nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. For example, how were the early histories and philosophies of Herschel, Lyell, and Whewell were received? My own paper will examine the public response to the science-religion narratives of Draper and White. We are particularly interested in science-religion narratives in literature at the end of the century. Please contact me as soon as possible with your ideas and abstracts at j.ungureanu@uq.edu.au. Thank you.

Underlying Assumptions in the History of Science

Kate MacCord & Paige Madison

Assumptions are a critical part of science--they mold scientists explanations of natural phenomena and are also often tied to particular social and political contexts. Sometimes unstated, assumptions have led to conflicts throughout the history of science. For example, when Raymond Dart introduced the proposed oldest human ancestor in 1925, British scientists scoffed at the idea that Africa could be the cradle of humankind because the Piltdown fossil had solidified in the consciousness of British scientists the primacy of their antiquity. It was over two decades before Dart’s African fossil was validated. On the other hand, overcoming assumptions has led to some incredible scientific breakthroughs. For instance, Einstein’s development of special relativity, which discarded the widespread assumption that the universe was filled with aether. This panel proposes to bring together case studies to examine the role of assumptions in the sciences in order to investigate how assumptions have shaped the history of science.

We are happy to consider a paper that deals with any of the sciences. Please contact me at __kmaccord@asu.edu__ with an abstract for your proposed paper by Saturday, April 1st.

Scientific Exploration and Empire

Angelo Matteo Caglioti
UC Berkeley

Dear all,

I am writing to invite submissions for co-panelists at the next meeting of the History of Science Society in Toronto (9-12 November 2017). The panel is tentatively titled “Scientific exploration and empire” and intends to investigate colonial explorations as a site of scientific and imperial knowledge.

I would be particularly interested in co-panelists interested in scientific explorations and colonialism from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, but geographical area, scientific discipline and chronological frame are open. Contributions dealing with the climate, geophysical and environmental sciences would be particularly appreciated, and in particular papers dealing with meteorology, medical climatology, acclimatization, anthropology, climate and race.

Other themes of particular interest are: geographies of knowledge in colonial scientific explorations; technologies of exploration; politics and geopolitics of exploration; scientific exploration and the making of colonial and imperial States; cultures of exploration; the transformation of European science through extreme natural environments; exploration as Bildungsroman. In short, the panel intends to examine multiple aspects of scientific explorations across disciplinary boundaries.

Please contact me at am.caglioti@berkeley.edu

Best regards,

Angelo Caglioti
PhD Candidate
History Department - UC Berkeley