History And Philosophy Of Science | History of American Science
X645 | 3017 | James Capshew


This seminar explores the growth and development of the scientific
enterprise in the United States during the past two centuries.  It
approaches science as an intellectual and social activity performed by
people situated in specific historical contexts, and thus emphasizes
the institutional and cultural circumstances that have shaped
scientific knowledge about nature and humankind.  In cahrting the rise
of the U.S. as a world leader in science, we will study some of the
theories and findings produced by American scientists, and examine how
they were related to changing political, economic, and social forces.
We will explore how science has influenced American society and
culture, and conversely, how U.S. social and cultural life has
influenced science.  The seminar will focus on recent scholarship in
the history of American science.  We will study the development fo the
field as an academic specialty, and relate it to more general trends
in the history of science as well as American history.  Thus we will
concentrate on historiographicsl and methodological issues as we
grapple with the ways in which historians have portrayed the
scientific enterprise in the national context of the United States.
Among the themes and topics we will explore are: the rise of the
research university; professionalization and disciplinary
differentiation; patters of patronage and moral support; science,
technology, and warfare; the culture of big science; and the social
role of the scientist.  Although the course spand colonial times to
the present, the main focus will be on the period since 1850.  Each
week the seminar will take up one or more items for ciritcal analysis.
Each participant will be expected to contribute to the general
discussion, and perhaps present special reports on additional readings
as well.  Written assignments include a biographical sketch (2-3
pages), two book reviews (2-3 pages), and a short research paper or
historiographical essay (10-20 pages).