Sociology | Advanced Topics (Place and Truth)
S660 | 3719 | Tom Gieryn

Do geography and architecture have epistemic significance?  This
seminar is an exploration of the material situatedness of knowing and
knowledge, based on the premise that place matters for what we know
and what comes to count as legitimate knowledge.  Two questions will
guide the selections of readings and their discussion:  first, what
forms can "truth spots" take?  That is, where does truth come
from--laboratories, churches, wilderness, monuments, the home, the
courts--and why/how does truth itself assume different forms as it
emerges from these differently located/designed places?  Second, what
specifically is the connection between the physicalities of a place
and the practices of knowledge-making?  Do places shape cognition, and
how: through mnemonics, recollection, storage, display, intervention,
wonder, commemoration, celebration, inspiration, segregation?  The
readings will roam around, from recent work in cognitive science on
the embodiment/emplacement of knowing (Clark, Suchman, Lave) to
historical studies of the design of scientific laboratories and law
courts (me), from analyses of monuments and other "sacred places" to
studies of how people make sense of where they are (Lynch). This
seminar is not for everybody, and I encourage any graduate student
interested in it--from whatever program or department--to talk with me
before enrolling.