Today it's a truism
that we live in an age of science and technology. How has that come
to pass, and what has it meant for our lives? To answer those questions,
this course reviews the social history of science and technology in
the colonies and in the United States. It focusses on constructing an
understanding of how American society has influenced and in turn been
influenced by the development of science and technology. The majority
of our time will be spent on technology, rather than science.
Classes meet Monday
and Thursday afternoons, 1:10 - 2:15.
With a few exceptions, they consist of discussion of assigned readings.
Class participation is essential for arriving at clarification and qualification
of ideas in the texts and in the discussion.
For the few lengthy reading assignments use skimming skills; it is not
necessary to know every detail.
Six times during
the semester, students are to submit a short paper [2-3 pp], dealing
with a topic in the reading, or one suggested by it. The purpose of
these papers is to stimulate and focus discussion, and to practice writing.
All 6 papers are to be written and handed in by Monday, November 25,
the 23rd class session. There will be a midterm hour exam, a second
hour exam after Thanksgiving, and a final short quiz.
Grades will be based on class participation [attendance, quality and
frequency of interaction], papers, and exams, in proportions respectively
of 30%, 30%, and 40%.
are the textbooks for the course:
R. S. Cowan,
A Social History of American Technology
Hughes, American Genesis: A History of the
American Genius for Invention
Pursell, The Machine in America: A Social
History of Technology
addition to the textbooks, there are a series of required and some recommended
readings [articles, excerpts and chapters from books] available in a
packet obtainable at cost, $10.00 (443 pp) from Ms. Kate Fletcher, Administrative
Assistant, 189 Bronfman:
"What is Technology?
Winner, "Brandy, Cigars, and Human Values"
R. S. Woodbury, "The Legend of Eli Whitney and Interchangeable
Cross and Szostak, "Iron, Steam, Rails"
Hindle and Lubar, "The John Bull and the Rise of American
Cross and Szostak, "Machines on the Farm
1800 - 1920"
B. Hindle and S. Lubar, "Farming and Raw Materials Processing:
and Effects of Mechanization"
Cross and Szostak, "Americans confront a Mechanical World"
D.E. Nye, "The American Sublime"
J. Kasson, "The Emergence of Republican Technology"
[Ch. 1 of Kasson]
J. Kasson, "Technology and Utopia" [Ch. 5 of Kasson]
G. Basalla, "Keaton and Chaplin: The Silent Film's Response
D. A. Hounshell, "The Ethos of Mass Production & Its
L. Marx, "Alienation and Technology"
L. White, Jr., "Dynamo and Virgin Reconsidered"
Fallows, "The American Army and the M-16 Rifle"
Smith/Clancey, "Countdown to Cyberspace: 1974 - 1990.
Abbate,"Cold War and White Heat: the Origins and Meanings
of Packet Switching"
Smith/Clancey, "The Pest War: The Shifting Use and Meaning
1940 - 1990"
Marcus "Unanticipated Aftertaste: Cancer, The Role of Science,
Question of DES Beef
Marcus/Segal "Public and Private: Technology as a Social
Question: The Later
1960s to the1990s"
Marcus/Segal "Private and Public: Technology and Individual
Later 1960s to the 1990s"