Autumn

KNOW 31408: Introduction to Science Studies

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department: Anthropology, Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, History, History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, SIFK, Sociology
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Autumn
  • Wednesday 9:30 – 12:20 PM
  • CHSS 32000, ANTH 32305, SOCI 40137, HIST 56800, HIPS 22001
  • Karin Knorr Cetina; Adrian Johns
  • Social Sciences Research Building 404

This course explores the interdisciplinary study of science as an enterprise. During the twentieth century, sociologists, historians, philosophers, and anthropologists all raised interesting and consequential questions about the sciences. Taken together their various approaches came to constitute a field, "science studies." The course provides an introduction to this field. Students will not only investigate how the field coalesced and why, but will also apply science-studies perspectives in a fieldwork project focused on a science or science-policy setting. Among the topics we may examine are the sociology of scientific knowledge and its applications, actor-network theories of science, constructivism and the history of science, images of normal and revolutionary science, accounts of research in the commercial university, and the examined links between science and policy.

KNOW 27007: The First Great Transformation: The Economies of the Ancient World

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: Classical Studies, History, SIFK, Signature Course
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Autumn
  • Tuesdays & Thursdays 2:00 – 3:20 PM
  • CLCV 20517, HIST 20505, SIGN 26015
  • Alain Bresson
  • Classics Building 021

This class examines the determinants of economic growth in the ancient world. It covers various cultural areas (especially Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome and China) from ca. 3000 BCE to c. 500 CE. By contrast with the modern world, ancient cultures have long been supposed to be doomed to stagnation and routine. The goal of this class is to revisit the old paradigm with a fresh methodology, which combines a rigorous economic approach and a special attention to specific cultural achievements. We will assess the factors that indeed weighed against positive growth but we will also discover that, far from being immobile, the cultures of the ancient world constantly invented new forms of social and economic organization. This was indeed a world where periods of positive growth were followed by periods of brutal decline, but if envisaged on the longue durée, this was a period of decisive achievements, which provided the basis for the future accomplishments of the Early Modern and Modern world.

KNOW 21413: Sex and Enlightenment Science

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: Gender and Sexuality Studies, History, History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, SIFK
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Autumn
  • Mondays & Wednesdays 3:00 – 4:20 PM
  • HIST 22218, HIPS 21413, GNSE 21413
  • Margaret Carlyle
  • SIFK 104

What do a lifelike wax woman, a birthing dummy, and a hermaphrodite have in common? This interdisciplinary course seeks answers to this question by exploring how eighteenth-century scientific and medical ideas, technologies, and practices interacted with and influenced contemporary notions of sex, sexuality, and gender. In our course, the terms "sex," "Enlightenment," and "science" will be problematized in their historic contexts using a variety of primary and secondary sources. Through these texts, as well as images and objects, we will see how emerging scientific theories about sex, sexuality, and gender contributed to new understandings of the human, especially female, body. We will also see how the liberating potential of Enlightenment thought gave way to sexual and racial theories that insisted on fundamental human difference. Topics to be covered include theories of generation, childbirth, homosexuality, monstrosities, race and procreation, and hermaphrodites and questions about the "sex" of the enlightened scientist and the gendering of scientific practices.

KNOW 40102: The Commons & the Public: Figuring Collaborative Knowledge Production

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department:
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Autumn
  • Mondays and Wednesdays 9:00 - 11:20 AM
  • KNOW 40102
  • Mario Biagioli

Starting with Roman Law and moving up to contemporary critiques of intellectual property, this seminar explores new ways of conceptualizing collaborative forms of knowledge production that have been typically referred to as "commons".  We do so by following a series of parallel and intersecting questions, starting with those concerning what the commons are about:  What were the traditional commons of things or resources (public lands, public spaces, fisheries, pastures, forests)?  What are the new commons of knowledge (academic publications, free software, wikipedia, etc)? And what is the relationship between infrastructures (roads, harbors, Internet, and the commons)?  We then look at the changing configurations of human actors associated with the commons, that is, the differences between the communities associated with the traditional commons of traditional resources and the publics, counterpublics, multitudes, and crowds, that are now associated with collaborative forms of knowledge making and political action.  We try, in sum, to conceptualize the relationship between the new knowledge commons and new notions of the public.

NOTE: This is a 5-week intensive seminar taking place between October 16, 2017 through November 17, 2017 in SIFK 104.

This course fulfills part of the KNOW Core Seminar requirement to be eligible to apply for the SIFK Dissertation Research Fellowship. No instructor consent is required, but registration is not final until after the 1st week in order to give Ph.D. students priority.

KNOW 27004: Babylon and the Origins of Knowledge

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department:
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Autumn
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00 - 12:20 PM
  • Eduardo A. Escobar

In 1946 the famed economist John Maynard Keynes declared that Isaac Newton “was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians.” We find throughout history, in the writings of Galileo, Jorge Luis Borges, Ibn Khaldun, Herodotus, and the Hebrew Bible, a city of Babylon full of contradictions. At once sinful and reverential, a site of magic and science, rational and irrational, Babylon seemed destined to resound in the historical imagination as the birthplace of knowledge itself. But how does the myth compare to history? How did the Babylonians themselves envisage their own knowledge? And is it reasonable to draw, as Keynes did, a line that begins with Babylon and ends with Newton? In this course we will take a cross comparative approach, investigating the history of the ancient city and its continuity in the scientific imagination.

KNOW 21407: The Vocation of a Scientist

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department:
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Autumn
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:00 - 3:20 PM
  • ANTH 22129
  • Damien Droney

Max Weber wrote that to be a scientist one needed a “strange intoxication” with scientific work and a “passionate devotion” to research as a calling. And yet, such passion seemed to conflict with the ideal of value-neutral inquiry. This class considers the vocation of science since the turn of the twentieth century. What political, economic, and cultural forces have shaped scientific professions in the United States? How are scientists represented in public culture? How was American science experienced during the colonization of the Philippines? By exploring these questions, this class will examine the values and norms that make science into a meaningful vocation.

KNOW 21406 / 31406: History of Skepticism

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department: Classical Studies, Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, History, History of Religions, History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, Religious Studies, Signature Course
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Autumn, Winter
  • HIST 29516, HIST 39516, CLCV 28517, SIGN 26011, HIPS 29516, CHSS 39516, RLST 22123, HREL 39516
  • Ada Palmer
  • 5727 S. University Ave. 112

Before we ask what is true or false, we must ask how we can know what is true or false. This course examines the vital role doubt and philosophical skepticism have played in the Western intellectual tradition, from pre-Socratic Greece through the Enlightenment, with a focus on how Criteria of Truth—what kinds of arguments are considered legitimate sources of certainty—have changed over time. The course will examine dialog between skeptical and dogmatic thinkers, and how many of the most fertile systems in the history of philosophy have been hybrid systems which divided the world into things which can be known, and things which cannot. The course will touch on the history of atheism, heresy and free thought, on fideism and skeptical religion, and will examine how the Scientific Method is itself a form of philosophical skepticism. Primary source readings will include Plato, Sextus Empiricus, Lucretius, Ockham, Pierre Bayle, Montaigne, Descartes, Francis Bacon, Hobbes, Voltaire, Diderot, and others.

KNOW 21403 / 31403: Censorship from the Inquisition to the Present

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department:
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Autumn
  • KNOW 21403, KNOW 31403, HIST 25421, HIST 35421
  • Ada Palmer; Stuart M. McManus

Collaborative research seminar on the history of censorship and information control, with a focus on the history of books and information technologies. The class will meet in Special Collections, and students will work with the professor to prepare an exhibit, The History of Censorship, to be held in the Special Collections exhibit space in spring. Students will work with rare books and archival materials, design exhibit cases, write exhibit labels, and contribute to the exhibit catalog. Half the course will focus on censorship in early modern Europe, including the Inquisition, the spread of the printing press, and clandestine literature in the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Special focus on the effects of censorship on classical literature, both newly rediscovered works like Lucretius and lost books of Plato, and authors like Pliny the Elder and Seneca who had been available in the Middle Ages but became newly controversial in the Renaissance. The other half of the course will look at modern and contemporary censorship issues, from wartime censorship, to the censorship comic books, to digital rights management, to free speech on our own campus. Students may choose whether to focus their own research and exhibit cases on classical, early modern, modern, or contemporary censorship.

Winter

MEDC 30020/1: Scholarship and Discovery 1B:  Introduction to Medical Evidence

  • Course Level:
  • Department: Pritzker School of Medicine
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Winter
  • MWF 11-12
  • Adam Cifu

For first year medical students. Enrollment available upon consent from Dr. Adam Cifu.

KNOW 47002: Topics in the Philosophy of Judaism: Soloveitchik Reads the Classics

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department: History of Judaism, Philosophy, Philosophy of Religions
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Winter
  • Tue : 02:00 PM-04:50 PM
  • PHIL 53360, HIJD 53360, DVPR 53360
  • Arnold Ira Davidson
  • Beecher Hall 101

"Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik was one of the most important philosophers of Judaism in the twentieth century. Among his many books, essays and lectures, we find a detailed engagement with the Bible, the Talmud and the fundamental works of Maimonides. This course will examine Soloveitchik's philosophical readings and appropriation of Torah, Talmud, and both the Guide and the Mishneh Torah. A framing question of the course will be: how can one combine traditional Jewish learning and modern philosophical ideas? What can Judaism gain from philosophy? What can philosophy learn from Judaism? All students interested in enrolling in this course should send an application to jbarbaro@uchicago.edu by 12/16/2016. Applications should be no longer than one page and should include name, email address, phone number, and department or committee. Applicants should briefly describe their background and explain their interest in, and their reasons for applying to, this course. Winter 2017."

Additional Notes
All students interested in enrolling in this course should send an application to jbarbaro@uchicago.edu by 12/15/2017. Applications should be no longer than one page and should include name, email address, phone number, and department or committee.

KNOW 45699: When Cultures Collide: Multiculturalism in Liberal Democracies

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department: Anthropology, Comparative Human Development, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Human Rights, Psychology, SIFK
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Winter
  • Wed : 09:30 AM-12:20 PM
  • CHDV 45699, PSYC 45300, ANTH 45600, HMRT 35600, GNSE 45600
  • Richard A Shweder
  • Haskell Hall M102

Coming to terms with diversity in an increasingly multicultural world has become one of the most pressing public policy projects for liberal democracies in the early 21st century. One way to come to terms with diversity is to try to understand the scope and limits of toleration for variety at different national sites where immigration from foreign lands has complicated the cultural landscape. This seminar examines a series of legal and moral questions about the proper response to norm conflict between mainstream populations and cultural minority groups (including old and new immigrants), with special reference to court cases that have arisen in the recent history of the United States.

KNOW 42214: Transnational Religious Movements

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department: Anthropology and Sociology of Religion, History of Religions, SIFK
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Winter
  • Wed : 02:30 PM-05:20 PM
  • AASR 42214, HREL 42214
  • Angie Heo
  • Swift Hall 200

This course examines the transnational reach of various religious movements drawing mainly from literature in anthropology, sociology and cultural studies. Topics that will be considered include migration and refugees, social movements, diasporic nationalism and financial capitalism.

KNOW 32808: Planetary Britain

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, Environmental and Urban Studies, History, History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, SIFK
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Winter
  • Thu : 02:00 PM-04:50 PM
  • HIST 22708, HIST 32708, ENST 22708, HIPS 22708, CHSS 32708
  • Fredrik Albritton Jonsson
  • Kersten Phys Teach Center 105

What were the causes behind Britain's Industrial Revolution? In the vast scholarship on this problem, one particularly heated debate has focused on the imperial origins of industrialization. How much did colonial resources and markets contribute to economic growth and technological innovation in the metropole? The second part of the course will consider the global effects of British industrialization. To what extent can we trace anthropogenic climate change and other planetary crises back to the environmental transformation wrought by the British Empire? Topics include ecological imperialism, metabolic rift, the sugar revolution, the slave trade, naval construction and forestry, the East India Company, free trade and agriculture, energy use and climate change.

KNOW 25804: Feminists Read the Greeks

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Political Science, SIFK
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Winter
  • Mon: 03:30 PM-06:20 PM
  • PLSC 25804, PLSC 45804, GNSE 25804, GNSE 45804
  • Demetra Kasimis
  • Cobb Hall 107

As one scholar puts it, feminist thought has "gone a long way… toward inscribing classical Greek philosophy at the origins of some of the most tenacious assumptions about sexual difference in the Western tradition." Since the 1970s, writing on gender, sex, and sexuality has staged a series of generative, critical, and sometimes controversial encounters with ancient Greek thought and culture. We examine the ways in which the texts and practices of ancient Greece, if not the idea of "the Greeks," have offered theoretical and symbolic resources for feminists and others to think critically about gender as a conceptual and political category. What sorts of interpretive and historical assumptions govern these engagements? To what extent are the trajectories of gender studies and classics intertwined? Was there a concept of "gender" in ancient Greece? Of sexuality? Is it fair to say, as many have, that classical ideas about gender and the sexed body are wholly opposed to those of the "moderns"? Readings range from feminist theory to Greek mythology, philosophy, and drama to scholarship on gender and sexuality in antiquity (including Foucault, Halperin, and Winkler).

KNOW 25415 / 35415: History of Information

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department: Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, History, History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, Law, Letters, and Society, SIFK
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Winter
  • Mon : 09:30 AM-12:20 PM
  • HIST 25415, HIST 35415, LLSO 23501, CHSS 35415, HIPS 25415
  • Adrian D S Johns
  • 5733 S. University 103

"Information" in all its forms is perhaps the defining phenomenon of our age. But although we tend to think of it as something distinctively modern, in fact it came into being through a long history of thought, practice, and technology. This course will therefore suggest how to think historically about information. Using examples that range from the Middle Ages to the twenty-first century, we shall explore how different societies have conceptualized the subject, and how they have sought to control it. We shall address how information has been collected, classified, circulated, contested, and destroyed. The aim is to provide a different kind of understanding of information practices-one that can be put to use in other historical inquiries, as well as casting an unfamiliar light on our own everyday lives.

KNOW 27006: Health Care and the Limits of State Action

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: Big Problems, Biological Sciences, Comparative Literature, Human Rights, SIFK
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Winter
  • Mon : 01:30 PM-04:20 PM
  • CMLT 28900, BPRO 28600, HMRT 28602, BIOS 29323
  • Haun Saussy and Mindy Schwartz
  • BioSci Learning Center 202

In a time of great human mobility and weakening state frontiers, epidemic disease is able to travel fast and far, mutate in response to treatment, and defy the institutions invented to keep it under control: quarantine, the cordon sanitaire, immunization, and the management of populations. Public health services in many countries find themselves at a loss in dealing with these outbreaks of disease, a deficiency to which NGOs emerge as a response (an imperfect one to be sure). Through a series of readings in anthropology, sociology, ethics, medicine, and political science, we will attempt to reach an understanding of this crisis of both epidemiological technique and state legitimacy, and to sketch out options.

Greece and Rome:  Texts, Traditions, Transformations II

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department:
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Winter
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:00 PM-03:20 PM
  • HUMA 12150/4
  • Stuart McManus

The Winter Quarter focuses on how tragedy and history confront familial, social, and external conflict in different genres. Readings cover Aeschylus, "Oresteia," selections from the histories of Herodotus, Livy, and Tacitus, tragedies by Seneca, and several of Shakespeare’s history plays.

Language & The Human -II

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department:
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Winter
  • Thursday 11:00 AM-12:20 PM
  • HUMA 17100
  • Eduardo Escobar

The Winter Quarter is generally devoted to examining how language mediates between the individual and society, its origin, spread, evolution, and development, and its role in power, identity, culture, nationalism, thought, and persuasion, as well as its use in naming, politeness, irony, and metaphor. Further examined are the nature of translation, writing systems, language and artificial intelligence, invented languages, and to what extent language shapes or influences perception of the world and cognition. Readings typically from Whorf, Orwell, Grice, and others.

KNOW 21411: Sex, Race, and Empire

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, History, History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, SIFK
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Winter
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00am-12:20pm
  • KNOW 21411, CRES 21411, GNSE 21411, HIST 25315, HIPS 21411
  • Margaret Carlyle
  • SIFK 104

This course surveys how science, race, and gender interacted in the early modern Atlantic world from 1500-1800. We will critically examine how new modes of scientific inquiry brought Africans, Americans, and Europeans into contact and conflict. Along the way, we will ask how, why, and with consequences imperial science created new knowledge claims about human inequality, especially racial and sexual difference. We will draw primarily on British, Iberian, and French imperial agendas in order to track the experiences of men and women from all corners of the Atlantic world, including indigenous peoples, enslaved black Africans, free people of color, and white Europeans. Through a variety of primary and secondary sources, we will uncover European aspirations to curate, control, and exploit the natural world and the agency of subjugated peoples in responding to and resisting these designs. Topics covered include natural history collecting and classification; the invention of racial theory; slavery and maroons; women, gender, and reproduction; consumption; and violence, resistance, and revolution.

KNOW 29626: Modernities & Microscopes: Sociopolitical Change & Scientific Knowledge

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department:
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Winter
  • Wednesdays 3:00pm-5:50pm
  • KNOW 29626, HIPS 29626, HIST 25112
  • Zachary Barr

Historians of science Steve Shapin and Simon Schaffer argued in their now-canonical history of experimental philosophy, Leviathan and the Air-Pump, that “the problem of knowledge is the problem of social order.” Put another way, issues related to what knowledge is and how it is produced are intimately related to how knowledge-making practices are organized, where they are spatially located, and the kinds of persons that are considered legitimate practitioners. In short, scientific knowledge and sociopolitical context are deeply intertwined, and it is rarely possible to fully understand one without understanding the other.

This is especially true of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe, where the progressive interpenetration of technoscience and everyday life made the facts of thermodynamics and cybernetics, for example, increasingly implicated in sociopolitical developments, and vice versa. The aim of this course is to explore these entanglements in more detail. More specifically, this course will proceed chronologically through major developments in European (and, briefly, North American) history from 1815 to 1955, beginning with the role of the post-Napoleonic “Vienna System” in the consolidation of the statistical style of reasoning in week two, and ending with the relationship between cybernetics, “Big Science,” and cold war politics in week nine. The course will conclude by examining the viability and utility of the concepts “science”
and “society” in general, exploring Actor-Network Theory as an alternative framework for understanding the relationship between scientific knowledge and context.

 

KNOW 21410: Politics of Technoscience in Africa

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: Anthropology, Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies, History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, SIFK
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Winter
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:00 - 3:20 PM
  • ANTH 22165, CRES 21410, HIPS 21410
  • Damien Droney
  • SIFK 104

What does it mean for Wakanda, the fictional African country in Marvel’s Black Panther, to be the most “technologically advanced” country on Earth? What gets to count as science, technology, or innovation? What makes knowledge indigenous? What forms of knowledge have facilitated environmental management and medical care, and who gets to profit from that knowledge? How have independent African governments dealt with the imperial legacies of science? From the interpretation of archaeological ruins to the depiction of African technoscience in fiction, this will examine science and technology as political practice in Africa with a focus on colonialism and its aftermath.

KNOW 21408: History of Medicine

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: Committee on Clinical and Translational Science, History, History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, SIFK
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Winter
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:30 - 4:50 PM
  • HIPS 21408, CCTS 21408, HIST 25314
  • J. Pegg
  • SIFK 104

This course surveys the history of medicine from the medieval period to the present. How did medicine emerge as a defined body of knowledge? To what extent do diseases and disorders have an independent existence, and to what extent are they cultural constructs? How have social mores—particularly those related to religion, class, nationality, race, and gender—influenced the ways in which health was and is understood and maintained, and illness treated? What does it mean to practice medicine ethically, and how has that changed over time? Topics include the emergence and evolution of the medical profession, the history of medical research and method, the interpretation and treatment of the unhealthy and healthy alike, eugenics, euthanasia, the quest for immortality, and the changing relationship between technology and disease.

KNOW 21406 / 31406: History of Skepticism

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department: Classical Studies, Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, History, History of Religions, History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, Religious Studies, Signature Course
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Autumn, Winter
  • HIST 29516, HIST 39516, CLCV 28517, SIGN 26011, HIPS 29516, CHSS 39516, RLST 22123, HREL 39516
  • Ada Palmer
  • 5727 S. University Ave. 112

Before we ask what is true or false, we must ask how we can know what is true or false. This course examines the vital role doubt and philosophical skepticism have played in the Western intellectual tradition, from pre-Socratic Greece through the Enlightenment, with a focus on how Criteria of Truth—what kinds of arguments are considered legitimate sources of certainty—have changed over time. The course will examine dialog between skeptical and dogmatic thinkers, and how many of the most fertile systems in the history of philosophy have been hybrid systems which divided the world into things which can be known, and things which cannot. The course will touch on the history of atheism, heresy and free thought, on fideism and skeptical religion, and will examine how the Scientific Method is itself a form of philosophical skepticism. Primary source readings will include Plato, Sextus Empiricus, Lucretius, Ockham, Pierre Bayle, Montaigne, Descartes, Francis Bacon, Hobbes, Voltaire, Diderot, and others.

KNOW 21404 / 31404: History of Perception

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department: Anthropology, Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, History, History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, SIFK
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Winter
  • Wed : 03:00 PM-05:50 PM
  • HIST 25309, HIST 35309, HIPS 25309, CHSS 35309, ANTH 24308, ANTH 34308
  • Michael Rossi
  • Green Hall 104

Knowing time. Feeling space. Smelling. Seeing. Touching. Tasting. Hearing. Are these universal aspects of human consciousness, or particular experiences contingent upon time, place, and culture? How do we come to know about our own perceptions and those of others? This course examines these and related questions through detailed readings of primary sources, engagement in secondary scholarship in the history and anthropology of sensation, and through close work with participants’ own sensations and perceptions of the world around them.

KNOW 40201: Reason and Religion

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department:
  • Year: 2017-18, 2016-17
  • Term: Winter
  • W 3:00 - 5:50 PM
  • KNOW 40201, CDIN 40201, HIST 66606, CLAS 46616, CHSS 40201, DVPR 46616, PHIL 43011
  • Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer, Robert J. Richards

The quarrel between reason and faith has a long history.  The birth of Christianity was in the crucible of rationality.  The ancient Greeks privileged this human capacity above all others, finding in reason the quality wherein man was closest to the gods, while the early Christians found this viewpoint antithetical to religious humility.  As religion and its place in society have evolved throughout history, so have the standing of, and philosophical justification for, non-belief on rational grounds.  This course will examine the intellectual and cultural history of arguments against religion in Western thought from antiquity to the present .  Along the way, of course, we will also examine the assumptions bound up in the binary terms “religion” and “reason.”

No prerequisites. Course requirements: 12-page research paper (40%), class report (30%), active participation (15%), book review (15%).

This course fulfills part of the KNOW Core Seminar requirement to be eligible to apply for the SIFK Dissertation Research Fellowship. No instructor consent is required, but registration is not final until after the 1st week in order to give Ph.D. students priority.

Spring

KNOW 21414: What is Technology?

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, SIFK
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Spring
  • Wednesdays 3:00pm-5:50pm
  • KNOW 21414, HIPS 21414
  • D. Droney
  • SIFK 104

In the nineteenth century, the word “technology” referred to the science of the useful and industrial arts. While the term is today synonymous with machinery and other material tools, this contemporary usage dates only to the 1930s. A word once used to describe a specialist mode of writing about applied knowledge has come to refer to tools and their use.

This seminar class offers a history of twentieth century scholarship on technology, examining differing meanings and interpretations of technology across the disciplines of history, sociology, anthropology, and literary studies. We will examine the etymology of the term and its social history, as well as the history of ideas regarding the sociocultural contexts and effects of technology. Readings will include works by Veblen, Heidegger, Ellul, Mumford, Leo Marx, Latour, Haraway, Oldenziel, Edgerton, and others.

KNOW 17403: Science, Culture, & Society: Early Modern Science: Revolutions in Astronomy and Anatomy

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department: History, History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, SIFK
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Spring
  • M/W 1.30–2.50pm
  • HIPS 17403, HIST 17403, KNOW 17403
  • Margaret Carlyle
  • SIFK 104

This course explores scientific developments in Western Europe from the sixteenth-century Scientific Revolution to the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. Through the works of Copernicus, Galileo, Vesalius, Harvey, Newton, Emilie du Châtelet, and more, we will explore revolutionary change in the fields of both astronomy and anatomy.

KNOW 31415: Knowledge As a Platter: Comparative Perspectives on Knowledge Texts in the Ancient World

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department: Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, Philosophy of Religions, SIFK, Social Thought, South Asian Languages & Civilizations
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Spring
  • MW 9:30 – 12:20 PM
  • SCTH 30927, SALC 30927, CHSS 30927, HREL 30927, KNOW 31415
  • Lorraine Daston and Wendy Doniger
  • Foster 305

NOTE: This 5-week seminar meets from March 26 – April 30, 2018

In various Ancient cultures, sages created the new ways of systematizing what was known in fields as diverse as medicine, politics, sex, dreams, and mathematics. These texts did more than present what was known; they exemplified what it means to know – and also why reflective, systematic knowledge should be valued more highly than the knowledge gained from common sense or experience. Drawing on texts from ancient India, Greece, Rome, and the Near East, this course will explore these early templates for the highest form of knowledge and compare their ways of creating fields of inquiry: the first disciplines. Texts include the Arthashastra, the Hippocratic corpus, Deuteronomy, the Kama Sutra, and Aristotle’s Parva naturalia.

KNOW 27005: Secrecy and Science

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: History, History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, Religious Studies, SIFK
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Spring
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:00 - 3:20 PM
  • KNOW 27005, HIST 24918, HIPS 27005, RLST 27550
  • Eduardo A. Escobar
  • SIFK 104

This course traces the relationship between openness, secrecy, and the construction of scientific knowledge. Our sources span several millennia of intellectual history, from cuneiform tablets containing glassmaking recipes and the “secrets of the gods,” to Medieval alchemical recipes, and to the first museums of natural history. We will investigate how and why science shifted from a subject intended for the elite few, to a more democratic ideal that embraced public demonstration. The role of patronage in the development of scientific knowledge, and the complex interaction between science and religion will be central to our discussions. Writing assignments will respond to thematic questions based on the readings.

KNOW 21409: History of Extraterrestrial Life

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: Ecology and Evolution, History, History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Spring
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:30 - 4:50 PM
  • KNOW 21409, ECEV 31409, HIPS 21409, HIST 24917
  • J. Daly
  • SIFK 104

In 2014, the Vatican Radio made a splash when it reported that the pontiff, Pope Francis, condoned the baptism of extraterrestrials—if they so desired it. "Who are we to close doors?" he asked rhetorically. It was both a metaphor for spiritual inclusion and an accurate representation of the modern Vatican's position on the possibilities of modern astrobiology and the search for extrasolar planets, fields whose rapid growth over the past two decades make serious consideration of extraterrestrial life seem like a uniquely modern phenomena. Its history, however, is in fact many centuries old. In this course we will examine the development of beliefs concerning life in the universe from the sixteenth century to the present. How did historical actors understand the nature, abilities, and location of extraterrestrial life, and its relationship to man and god? We will analyze connections between these beliefs and contemporary political, social, scientific, and religious developments. These include the role of the plurality of worlds in the debates over heliocentrism, its impact and application in the context of deism and social and political freethought, its literary and artistic depictions and use as a tool of satire and social commentary, its influence on natural philosophy, its decline and the subsequent rise of alien conspiracists and their critics, and how and why conceptions of the extraplanetary other took a dark and sinister turn toward the early-to-mid twentieth century. We conclude by bringing our historical perspective and analytic skills to bear on shifting contemporary ideas concerning life in the universe, from developments in astrobiology to conflicting concepts of the alien in film and fiction.

KNOW 23003: Politics and the Sacred: Divinities and Essences in the Making of Political Order

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: SIFK, Sociology
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Spring
  • Fridays 3:00 - 5:50 PM
  • SOCI 20267, KNOW 23003
  • Andreas Glaeser
  • SSR Building 404

Politics is replete with references to phenomena that are themselves imagined to lie beyond political inference. Four such phenomena that are imagined as absolutes stand out in the making of the Europeanoid world: 1. the idea of a single all-knowing, all-powerful creator god; 2. the idea that the world as it appears to us is grounded in unchanging essences; 3.  the idea that there can be a sovereign power that has the final and undisputable say in all matters political; and 4. the idea that like the material world human affairs are governed by unchanging laws which can be systematically exploited for creating a better social order. This course looks at the historical context in which these ideas have both emerged (or re-emerged) and found lastingly impactful formulations in the Hebrew Bible, Plato’s Philosophy, the works of Bodin and Hobbes, as well as in the works of Comte and Marx. It also explores the reasons and theorizes why references to absolutes appear to be so appealing to politicians.

KNOW 31407: Hermeneutic Sociology

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department: Anthropology, SIFK, Sociology
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Spring
  • M 5:30 - 8:20pm
  • SOCI 40156, ANTH 40150, KNOW 31407
  • Andreas Glaeser
  • SSR Building 404

The core ideas of a social hermeneutics expanding traditional textual hermeneutics into social life, were developed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. They can be summarized in a few intertwining propositions: First, discursive, emotive and sensory modalities of sense making, conscious and unconscious, characterize and differentiate social life forms. Second, sense making is acting, thus entangled in institutions. Third, sense making proceeds in diverse media whose structures and habits of use shape its process rendering form and style important. Fourth, sense making is structured by the relationships within which they take place. Fifth, sense making is crucial for the reproduction of all aspects of life forms. Sixths, sense making, life forms, and media are dialectically (co-constitutively) intertwined with each other. Seventh, social hermeneutics is itself sense-making. The course will explore these ideas by reading classical statements that highlight the core analytical concepts that social hermeneuticists employ such as symbolization, interpretation, mediation, rhetoric, performance, performativity, interpretive community, institutionalization. Every session will combine a discussion of the readings with an analytical practicum using these concepts. Authors typically include Vico, Herder, Dilthey, Aristotle, Burke, Austin, Ricoeur, Schütz, Bourdieu, Peirce, Panofsky, Ranciere, Lakoff, Mackenzie, Latour.

This course fulfills part of the KNOW Core Seminar requirement to be eligible to apply for the SIFK Dissertation Research Fellowship. Ph.D. students must register with the KNOW 31407 course number in order for this course to meet the requirement. 

(This course was previously offered during spring 2010, spring 2011, winter 2012, spring 2014, and winter 2016.)

KNOW 23002: How to Build a Global Empire

  • Course Level: Undergraduate
  • Department: Classical Studies, History, Latin American Studies, SIFK
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Spring
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:30-1:50pm
  • HIST 26128, CLCV 22917, LACS 26128, KNOW 23002
  • Stuart M. McManus
  • SIFK 104

Empire is arguably the oldest, most durable and most diffused form of governance in human history that reached its zenith with the global empires of Spain, Portugal and Britain.  But how do you build a global empire?  What political, social, economic and cultural factors contribute to their formation and longevity?  What effects do they have on the colonizer and the colonized?  What is the difference between a state, an empire and a “global” empire?  We will consider these questions and more in case studies that will treat the global empires of Rome, Portugal and Britain, concluding with a discussion of the modern resonances of this first “Age of Empires.”

KNOW 40302: Islam and Modern Science

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department: Anthropology, Anthropology and Sociology of Religion, Islamic Studies, SIFK
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Spring
  • Wednesdays 10:30 - 1:20 PM
  • KNOW 40302, AASR 40302, ISLM 40302, ANTH 42520
  • Alireza Doostdar
  • SIFK 104

Since the nineteenth century, the rise of the modern empirical sciences has provided both challenges and opportunities for Muslim-majority societies. In this seminar, we examine the epistemological, institutional, and biopolitical transformations that have come about in these societies through encounters with a range of natural and social scientific disciplines (astronomy, medicine, psychology, psychical research, psychoanalysis, eugenics, economics, sociology, anthropology, and others). Readings are from anthropology, history, and science studies.

This course fulfills part of the KNOW Core Seminar requirement to be eligible to apply for the SIFK Dissertation Research Fellowship. No instructor consent is required, but registration is not final until after the 1st week in order to give Ph.D. students priority.

KNOW 21405 / 31405: The Italian Renaissance

  • Course Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Department: SIFK
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Term: Spring
  • Tuesdays & Thursdays 3:30 – 4:50 PM
  • KNOW 21405/31405, HIST 22900/32900, CLAS 32914, HCHR 32900, ITAL 32914/22914, CLCV 22914, RLST 22900
  • Ada Palmer
  • Harper Memorial Lib 130

Florence, Rome, and the Italian city-states in the age of plagues and cathedrals, Dante and Machiavelli, Medici and Borgia (1250–1600), with a focus on literature and primary sources, the recovery of lost texts and technologies of the ancient world, and the role of the Church in Renaissance culture and politics. Humanism, patronage, translation, cultural immersion, dynastic and papal politics, corruption, assassination, art, music, magic, censorship, religion, education, science, heresy, and the roots of the Reformation. Assignments include creative writing, reproducing historical artifacts, and a live reenactment of a papal election. First-year students and non-history majors welcome.