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Cluster Courses in Science Studies, 2010-11

FALL 2010

Topics in the History of Information and Communication Technology
Jennifer S. Light Tuesdays, 2:00-4:50

Description: This course introduces students to the fields and methods of historical research on information and communication technology. No previous training in this field is required, but students who would like to use the class to continue research on a relevant topic are welcome. The class operates based on the philosophy that the best way to acquire training in historical research is not to begin by reading “how to” sources on historical techniques and methods but rather to pair readings of the best scholarly histories in a given area with an effort to write history oneself. Each week of the class combines discussion of several articles or book selections with discussion of the research process more generally. By the third week of the course, students (individually or in small groups) will have selected a topic for research and as the course proceeds will devote increasing time to researching and writing up.

History of Psychology
Francesca Bordogna Tuesday, 2-5pm

Description: This seminar explores the history of the sciences and technologies of the human mind and self in Western culture, focusing on four periods during which understandings of the mind and of the self underwent important changes: the so-called scientific revolution, the French revolution and its aftermath, the late nineteenth century, and the second half of the twentieth century. We will study how natural philosophers, physicians, mystics, psychologists, psychiatrists, and, more recently, neuroscientists and molecular biologists transformed the traditional mental faculties (e.g. memory and the imagination) and articulated new forms of selfhood, as they pursued new personal, social, or political goals.

At the same time we will track the “soul’s economy” (Jeff Sklansky) as well as the gender, class, and “bio”-politics of the self, and ask historical and methodological questions, such as: Did early-modern spiritual exercises designed to observe and perfect the soul reverberate in nineteenth-century instrument-based laboratory studies of the mind? Have practices of the self and technologies of the mind (e.g. disciplines of attention and recollection, and ways of “writing the self”) traveled across scientific and philosophical cultures? When did the human self become a scientific object? Our discussion will address recent methodologies in the history, sociology, and anthropology of science and of philosophy, as well as approaches from cultural history and gender studies.

Studies in French Philosophy: Reading Foucault
Penelope Deutscher Tues and Thurs, 6-7.20

NOTE: This is a 300-level undergraduate course, but Prof. Deutscher allows graduate students to sit in on the lectures and provides additional readings/assignments for interested graduate students.

Description: This course offers an overview of the work of one of the most influential late twentieth century French philosophers, Michel Foucault. Focusing on his studies of madness, the medical gaze, incarceration, prisons and other institutions, sexual and confessing subjects, subjects seeking truth, knowledge, freedom or liberation, students will have the opportunity to consolidate their understanding of Foucault's use of the terms: archaeology, power, biopower, discipline, interiority, resistance, strategy, dispositif, governmentality, genealogy, truth, knowledge, ethics and aesthetics of existence, through a full length course devoted to a survey of readings from his main texts. Foucault ‘s work is encountered in a number of disciplines spanning the social sciences and the humanities (including sociology, history comparative literary studies, political science, gender and race studies, French, philosophy, science in human culture (and so on).

This course is a cross- disciplinary resource for those seeking a more systematic introduction to, or consolidation of, in his work. The course is oriented towards advanced undergraduates (other students should email the professor) with a separate discussion session offered for graduate students. READING: Paul Rabinow (ed), The Foucault Reader, New York, Pantheon, 1984. Students are also asked to fully read their choice of two from the following: Foucault's History of Madness, The Birth of the Clinic, The Order of Things, Discipline and Punish, The History of Sexuality (volumes 1, 2 or 3); Society Must Be Defended.

Gender and Embodiment
Michelle Molina Fridays, 10AM

Description: This class focuses on the particular historical circumstances that shaped the manner in which historical actors experienced their bodies. Primarily, the course will explore the human body as situated at the interstices of “science” and “religion.” Case studies and the bulk of the readings will emphasize the late Middle Ages and Early Modern period, with forays into colonial Latin America. In all cases, we will engage creatively with Bourdieu, Foucault and Merleau-Ponty, experimenting with how and when the tools offered by the above theorists offer us means to hone our ability to analyze and understand the role of the body in the creation of modern “selves.”


Seminar in French Philosophy: Biopolitics After Foucault
Penelope Deutscher Thursdays, 6:00-9:00 pm

Description: This course focuses on a number of critical responses to Foucauldian biopolitics in the context of feminist theory; recent Italian philosophy; Foucault’s College de France lectures; and deconstructive philosophy. Familiarity with Foucault’s History of Sexuality vol 1 is presupposed—where necessary you are asked to read this before the first class. Terms on which we focus are: immunity, auto-immunity, the society that must be defended, reproductive biopolitics, the (arguably) suicidal tendencies of biopower, biopolitics and democracy, and precarious life.

Texts to be considered will be selected from Foucault’s History of Sexuality 1, Abnormal, Society Must be Defended and Security, Territory, Population; Ann Laura Stoler, Race and the Education of Desire; Roberto Esposito’s Bios: Biopolitics and Philosophy; Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life; Ed Cohen A Body Worth Defending: Immunity, Biopolitics and the Apotheosis of the Modern Body; Nikolas Rose, The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedecine, Power, and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century; Judith Butler, Precarious Life; Derrida’s Rogues and interviews in Philosophy in a Time of Terror.

Research Seminar: "Useful" Films
Scott Curtis Tuesdays, 3:00-5:50 and 7:00-8:50

Description: The past decade has seen a growth of scholarship in the previously untapped area of what we might call "useful cinema": films that were made primarily with their utility value (as opposed to entertainment value) in mind. While such films cover a wide range of subjects and modes--including research films, educational films, and industrial or "sponsored" films--this heterogeneous realm of film history is united by a set of research challenges that pose unique methodological issues for media scholars. Often "orphaned" by their producers after they have served their usually ephemeral purpose, these films are scattered in a variety of collections and formats, usually without any accompanying paper documentation. Moreover, these films allow us to think about the moving image beyond theoretical and historical frameworks dominated by the theatrical feature film. This course, then, will outline the theoretical and methodological challenges of writing histories of "useful cinema" by focusing on three types of "useful" film: research films, educational films, and industrial films.

Modern Theory in Sociological Analysis
Wendy Espeland Mondays, 9:30-12:20

Description: This class investigates modernity. It includes selections that illustrate how various thinkers have conceived of what it means to be modern or post-modern, critiques of modernity, and skeptics who challenge the idea of modernity. It also includes sections on what I term "mechanisms of modernity": strategies that people in different historical and cultural contexts devise in their efforts to be modern.


The Politics of Knowledge: A Sociological Introduction to Science & Technology Studies
Steven Epstein Day & time TBD

Description: This course will provide a broad introduction to sociological perspectives within Science & Technology Studies (STS). While being sensitive to the interdisciplinary character of STS, we will emphasize the following questions: What have been the dominant approaches to the sociological study of science and technology? How have different schools developed, what sorts of sociological questions do they ask, what theories do they present, and what analytical tools do they offer? How do these various approaches help us understand such topics as the organization of scientific work, the politics of knowledge production, the design and dissemination of technologies, the diffusion and standardization of knowledge products, and the roles of the public in relation to science and technology? In which ways are present-day studies of science and technology consistent with, and in which ways are they in tension with, other ways of understanding knowledge, culture, politics, etc., that are employed within sociology today?

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