History and Philosophy Of Science | History of American Science
X645 | 29802 | James Capshew


This seminar explores the growth and development of the scientific
enterprise in the United States, with a focus on the 20th century.
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
charting 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 of 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 historiographical 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; patterns of patronage and moral support; science,
technology, and warfare; the culture of big science; and the social
role of the scientist.
Each week the seminar will take up one or more items for
critical 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).