Logan Lounge

A Collective Blog for Current and Former Members (and Friends!) of the History and Sociology of Science Department at the University of Pennsylvania

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Penn People at HSS/SHOT

For those who are attending the HSS/SHOT co-located meeting in Minneapolis (Nov. 3-6), below is a list of current and former Penn people on the program (apologies if I left anyone off!) I'm not quite sure why Friday is so overloaded with people while Saturday depends on a couple of our friends from the history department to keep from being almost completely empty of Penn presentations, but there you have it. (At least that will make it easier for most of us to enjoy the party on Friday night!) Here's the list:

NOTE: To print this list, cut and paste the text into a word-processing document...it should fit nicely on a single page, I think.

CORRECTION: Dominique's session was originally listed in the HSS newsletter for Friday morning, but it has been MOVED to Saturday morning, according to the HSS website (and Dominique herself!) I've corrected the listing below to reflect this.

SECOND CORRECTION: Jeff Tang has now been added to a Sunday morning session. For some reason, he wasn't listed in the program appearing in the SHOT newsletter, which I used to compile this list. I've added him below.

SHOT 9:00-10:30 a.m., 1st paper: Jeremy Vetter, "Knowledge and the Mining Business: The Technological Agenda of the Colorado Scientific Society"
SHOT 9:00-10:30 a.m., commentator: Fred Quivik
SHOT 9:00-10:30 a.m., commentator: Tom Zeller
SHOT 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m., commentator: Tom Haigh
SHOT 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m., commentator: Tom Hughes
SHOT 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m., 2nd paper: Yasushi Sato, "Where Systems Engineering Does Not Work: A Cross-Cultural Perspective"
HSS 1:45-3:45 p.m., 3rd paper: Alex Checkovich, "Problem Areas: Regions, Representations, and Authorities in the Great Depression"
HSS 1:45-3:45 p.m., 4th paper: Susan D. Jones, "Bradford and Walpole: Exchanging Knowledge About Occupational Anthrax"
SHOT 1:45-3:45 p.m., roundtable panelist: John Staudenmaier
SHOT 1:45-3:45 p.m., chair: Amy Slaton
HSS 4:00-6:00 p.m., 3rd paper: Roger Turner, "Ways of Knowing the Weather: Aviation, University Education, and the Development of Digital Computing"
SHOT 4:00-6:00 p.m., 3rd paper: Gerard Fitzgerald, "The Handmaiden of Industry: The Development of Industrial Microbiology in the U.S. Food Industry, 1900-1950"
SHOT 4:00-6:00 p.m., chair: Ruth Schwartz Cowan

HSS 9:00-11:45 a.m., 3rd paper: Dominique Tobbell, "Pharmaceutical Alliances: Academic-Industry-Government Networks of Drug Development and Policy in the Postwar United States"
HSS 9:00-11:45 a.m., commentator: Ruth Schwartz Cowan
HSS 9:00-11:45 a.m., commentator: Marta Hanson
SHOT 10:15-11:45 a.m., 1st paper: Lauren Nauta, "Left-Overs of the Gods: The Role of Bovine Milk and Colostrum Offerings in Autumnal Fever Therapeutics in the Punjab Plains, 1870-1930"
SHOT 1:15-3:15 p.m., 4th paper: Ian Petrie, "We recommend this vehicle to young Bengal: Bicycles and the Objects of Modernity in India, 1900-1960"
HSS 3:30-5:30 p.m., commentator: John Tresch

SHOT 9:15-10:45 a.m., 3rd paper: John Terino, "Technology to Represent and Evaluate the Effects of Modern Airpower"
SHOT 9:15-10:45 a.m., 4th paper: Jeff Tang, “Armchair Engineering: The Empowerment of Users in High-Fidelity Audio”

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Fathoming the Ocean

Congratulations to Helen Rozwadowski, former Penn HSS Grad, on the recent publication of her book, Fathoming the Ocean: The Discovery and Exploration of the Deep Sea (Harvard University Press, 2005). I just finished reading it, and I have to say it is fantastic (even better than the dissertation version!) This book is an excellent example of how to take good, solid history of science and turn it into something that should earn a much wider audience.

Any other newly-published books by Penn HSS Grads (or even faculty)? Feel free to post congratulations on this blog if you come across something like that...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Structure, Structure, Structure

Calling all historians of technology (or sympathizers) in the Penn community. Have you ever had a sense of unease with some aspects of the Social Construction of Technology approach but weren't sure quite how to articulate your misgivings? Or you didn't want to be confused with a reactionary? (Okay, so maybe SCOT isn't the newest thing in history of technology or STS, but I think it still occupies a somewhat canonical position.) I just came across an article that, to my mind, sums up the limitations of social constructivism as it has been practiced and points out directions it needs to expand and change in order to retain its vibrancy.

To those of who have had the (is it tired?) old structure vs. agency debate with me, or the related debate over actors' vs. analysts' categories, this will all seem pretty familiar. But if you want a nice lucid account of how structure has been neglected in SCOT, why structure is vital and important (the return of power, once again!), and why non-actors' categories are essential, see Hans K. Klein & Daniel Lee Kleinman, "The Social Construction of Technology: Structural Considerations," Science, Technology, and Human Values 27 (2002): 28-52.

In my opinion, these arguments apply equally well to agency-centered, actors-category-only accounts in history more generally, including the history of science and medicine. It is also the same basic set of reasons that explain why I am uncomfortable with the Actor-Network approach in science studies, the whole notion of "co-construction" as supposedly obliterating distinctions between science and society, and so forth. I would highly recommend this article as a reading for history of technology orals lists that include sections on SCOT, as perhaps the best single source analysis of its limitations, not from a conservative or technological determinist point of view but from an emancipatory point of view that seeks to understand the larger social relevance of science.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Technoscience Special Double Issue

The latest issue of Perspectives on Science (2005, no. 2) includes several very interesting articles on the broad theme of "Technoscience," originating from a conference at the Max Planck Institute (my current home!) a few years ago. Articles by Ursula Klein and Barry Barnes challenge the common view that technology and science were not brought together until the late 19th century during the dawning of "science-based industry." Another article by Wolfgang Lefevre on science as a labor process intersects with my own thinking about a "work history" of science; it may be of interest to others of you who share my interest in the history of work. The fourth essay is an attempt by Gideon Freudenthal to rehabilitate what he calls the Hessen-Grossman thesis on the relationship of early modern science to its social-economic circumstances, a thoughtful piece both as historiography and an argument about the "big picture." The next issue (no. 3) promises to contain several more papers from the same conference.

Although this journal has often seemed much too dominated by philosophy of science to attract the ongoing interest of some of us in the history and sociology of science, this particular issue is well worth a look. (And if it is any indication of the current editorial direction of Perspectives on Science, it is enough to make me want to think about submitting an article to them at some point!) It may be that one of these articles even merits discussion at a journal club or in the classroom....perhaps the one by Ursula Klein, given how much really interesting work--on the history of chemistry, no less!--she has been putting out lately. (She has her name on an office here on my floor, but I think her Independent Working Group has finished its term of operation. The MPI is advertising for a new IWG director, and moreoever I saw her listed as a visiting professor on the Harvard History of Science department website when I was browsing it the other day.)

While I'm in the mood for mentioning things I've found since coming to the MPI....The other day, a colleague here showed me one of the most fascinating books I've ever seen. It is called Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy, edited by Bruno Latour & Peter Weibel. It is an almost 1000-page compendium of brief (4-6 page) vignettes accompanied by magazine-quality illustrations on a extremely wide range of subjects, ranging from the cultural history of early modern science to musings on voting technology and supermarkets. Authors include many familiar names from the Harvard-Cambridge(UK)-Paris-Berlin metropolitan network in History of Science/STS (including soon-to-join-Penn-faculty John Tresch!) The book is based on an installation/exhibition at ZKM Karlsruhe (some kind of artsy museum-type place in Germany near the French border), which coincidentally is coming to an end this Monday. I'm not sure if the website will stay up after Oct. 3rd, but here is a link to it.

I need to get back to work now, but I do remember that today is the Joint Atlantic Seminar in the History of Medicine hosted by Penn, right? Someone there should post a brief synopsis after it is all over, so those of us far away can hear about how it went.