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Level 7

7AAH8009 Ways of Knowing: Understanding the History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Credit value: 20
Module convenor/tutor 2019/20: Dr Chris ManiasDr Anna Maerker; Dr David Edgerton

Teaching pattern: 10 x 2-hour weekly seminars
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 4,000-word essay (100%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years. 

How do new forms of knowledge originate?  How have nature, humans, the world, disease, health and technology been understood in the past?  How has science and medicine defined categories of things and objects, and with what effects? How have science, technology and medicine been embroiled in power struggles and conflicts, both within their own fields and within wider society? 

In this course, we will investigate these and other questions, and think about the history of science, technology and medicine across a range of periods and geographic regions.  Our starting point is that science and knowledge does not develop in a vacuum, but has always been informed by and had consequences for wider society.  Following this, we will examine how science, technology and medicine have affected historical events and processes, and how history and culture have shaped science, technology and medicine. 

To engage with these issues, we will study a series of key works in the history of science, technology and medicine, getting to grips with important approaches and theories. We will then apply these approaches to different historical contexts, testing them out by applying them to clear historical case-studies.  In doing so, you will gain both an insight into complex arguments and an ability to relate them to historical areas of interest.

Provisional teaching plan

1.   Introduction
2.   Situated Knowledge
3.   Global Frameworks
4.   Case-study Workshop
Claims & Practices
5.   Objectivity
6.   Collecting & Ordering
7.   Case-study workshop
8.   Artefacts & Politics
9.   Gender & Animals
10. Case-study workshop

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these texts is not mandatory

Bowler, Peter, and Morus, Iwan, Making Modern Science: A Historical Survey (Chicago, 2010)

Chalmers, AF, What is this thing called science? (Buckingham, 1999)

Collins, Harry, and Pinch, Trevor, The Golem: What everyone should know about science (Cambridge, 1993)

Cooter, Roger, and Pickstone, John (eds.), Companion to medicine in the twentieth century (London, 2002)

Dear, Peter, Revolutionizing the sciences: European knowledge and its ambitions, 1500-1700 (Basingstoke, 2009)

Edgerton, David, Shock of the old: Technology and global history since 1900 (London, 2006)

Jackson, Mark, (ed.), The Oxford handbook of the history of medicine (Oxford, 2011)

Olby, RC, Cantor, GN, Christie, JRR, and Hodge, MJS (eds.), Companion to the history of modern science (London, 1990)

Pickstone, John, Ways of knowing: A new history of science, technology and medicine (Manchester, 2000)

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