FALL 2012 Colloquium Series
All talks are on Friday from 4:00 to 6:00 PM in Ballantine Hall 003, unless otherwise noted.
Calendar [click date for details]
|Sep 24||Lyle Massey||The Epistemic Image: Picturing Knowledge in Early Modern Sciences of the Body||6:00 PM - 7:30 PM|
|Sep 28||Alistair Sponsel||A Growing Hazard: Charles Darwin and the Puzzle of Coral Reef Formation.|
|Oct 8||Friedrich Steinle||Exploratory experiments: Situating a concept|
|Oct 19||Jun Otsuka||When Less Is More: A Statistical Look at Levels of Explanation||2:30 PM - 4:00 PM|
|Oct 22||Urs Schoepflin||Challenges for the Humanities: Scholarly Work and Publishing in the Digital Age|
|Oct 26||Dawna Schuld||Principal Uncertainty: Art and Abstraction in the Atomic Age||2:30 PM - 4:00 PM|
|Nov 12||Hans-Joerg Rheinberger||Cultures of Experimentation||5:00 PM - 6:30 PM|
|Nov 30||Rob ILIFFE||Digital scholarship and the mental worlds of Isaac Newton|
|Dec 7||Churchill Workshop||Opening session of a two-day workshop in honor of Fred Churchill, on the occasion of his 80th birthday|
Sep 24 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM Co-sponsored with the Renaissance Studies Program
Place: IMU Maple Room
University of California at Irvine
Title: The Epistemic Image: Picturing Knowledge in Early Modern Sciences of the Body
Abstract: First printed in 1543, Andreas Vesalius’s De humani corporis fabrica challenged centuries of assumptions about human anatomy. One reason that the book was so persuasive to generations of physicians and anatomist was that the beautiful, folio-sized plates depicting the dissected body established the very idea of a normative canon of knowledge. Presenting an ideal composite of observations taken from interactions with multiple bodies, the plates embody a Renaissance episteme that Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison have called “truth-to-nature.” This approach to representation remained hegemonic until it was challenged first by the Dutch anatomist and surgeon, Govard Bidloo, in the late 17th century, and then by the English man-midwife, William Hunter, in the 18th century. Bidloo and Hunter rejected the very idea of the normative picture and instead published anatomical pictures that focused on the individuated act of dissection and on the hand, as-it-were, of the anatomist himself. This lecture will explore how and why this shift from the normative to the manual illuminates aspects of the relationship between picturing and vision in early modern science. Lyle Massey is Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Studies at the University of California, Irvine This lecture is made possible through the support of the College Arts and Humanities Institute, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Office of the Provost, the Robert and Avis Burke Lecture Series, Department of the History of Art, and the Department of the History and Philosophy of Science. There will be coffee, tea and light refreshments.
Title: A Growing Hazard: Charles Darwin and the Puzzle of Coral Reef Formation.
Abstract: Charles Darwin first received acclaim as a theorist for the explanation of the origin and form of coral reefs that he developed during the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle (1831-1836). Reef formation was at the time a problem of considerable scientific interest and of even greater practical concern to navigators and naval administrators. In the present paper I offer a new history of the development of Darwin's theory, arguing that it depended upon a set of techniques and a way of seeing that Darwin learned during the voyage from the Beagle's surveying officers. I explain how these skills enabled him to draw great insight from the view presented by a particular vantage-point at Tahiti, and argue that previous historians have been led to misunderstand the significance of this moment and the chronology of the theory's development by anachronistically taking for granted the character of the eventual theory.
Title: Exploratory experiments: Situating a concept
Abstract: Friedrich Steinle History of Philosophy, Literature, & History of Science & Technology Technische University Exploratory experiments: Situating a concept The concept of Exploratory Experimentation was proposed in the 1990s by Burian and Steinle independently from each other, based on historical analyses of episodes from biology and physics. Since then, the concept has been used and further developed in the ongoing discussion on experimentation. At the same time, the concept can and should be located within a longer, but rarely analyzed historical tradition of thinking about experiments. In my talk, I will sketch the concept as it was put forward in the 1990s, point to a historical line into which it should be situated, and analyze the shifts in meaning and emphasis it has taken more recently. Situating the concept in such a way leads to significantly sharpening its contours.
Oct 19 2:30 PM - 4:00 PM Hanson Lecture
Title: When Less Is More: A Statistical Look at Levels of Explanation
Abstract: The debate over epistemological reductionism concerns an appropriate level of explanation. A common appeal of reductionism is that microlevel descriptions are more precise in identifying causal relationships and predicting effects. My talk challenges this common claim by a formal analysis of macro/micro explanations. Supervenience or multiple-realizability relationships between macro and micro properties can be expressed with a nested structure of random variables. Based on statistical properties of these variables, I will show cases where macro descriptions perform better than microlevel counterparts in the identification of a cause or prediction of effects. This means that detailed explanations have their own costs as well as benefits. Model selection criteria such as AIC are suggested as a means to counterbalance these costs and benefits and to choose an appropriate level of explanation.
Place: Chemistry 122
Max-Planck-Institut fuer Wissenschaftsgeschichte-Berlin
Title: Challenges for the Humanities: Scholarly Work and Publishing in the Digital Age
Abstract: Since the foundation of the Max Planck Institute of the History of Science in 1994, it is our primary concern to make source materials available in digital form together with developing cutting edge tools and instruments to adequately support the scholarly work. ECHO - Cultural Heritage Online as an open access repository and research environment is the most prominent outcome of this endeavor. Based on our experience, basic issues of motivation, collection building strategies, specific tool development, Open Access as primary prerequisite (Berlin Declaration), research collaboration and trans-disciplinarity will be raised. Reflecting on changing notions of "the document" and on information economy, novel ways of disseminating research results will be presented (e.g. by way of Virtual Spaces; with Edition Open Access). Finally, problems of organizing quality control, of long-term sustainability, and of gaining recognition in evaluation procedures will be discussed.
Oct 26 2:30 PM - 4:00 PM
Title: Principal Uncertainty: Art and Abstraction in the Atomic Age
Abstract: When emerging quantum mechanical theories upset a stable Newtonian sense of the world in the beginning of the twentieth century, artists took notice. The move in physics from a particle-based model of the world to more dynamical systems inspired an attendant change in abstract art. The shift toward abstraction, already begun by Cézanne, was expanded upon by the cubists who declared that no object has an absolute form. Thus, to depict things “as they are” (Gleizes and Metzinger, 1913) a new system of painting needed to be developed. Quantum scientists were not mere spectators in these developments: from Einstein’s comments on cubism to the correspondence between David Bohm and “structurist” Charles Biederman; from Frank Malina’s establishment of the art journal Leonardo to Richard Feynman’s role as art museum trustee, physicists were personally invested in these debates. Relativity had become a fundamental creative principle for artists from the cubists through constructivism to the “de-materialization of the art object” (Lippard and Chandler, 1968) in minimal and conceptual art. And indeed, minimalist Donald Judd embraced uncertainty as the positivistic subject of inquiry, a move criticized by some as the “reduction of art to a point of emptiness ….” (Krauss, 1977), but which nevertheless inspired increasingly contingent practices in the coming years.
Nov 12 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM
Place: Fine Arts FA 015
Title: Cultures of Experimentation
Abstract: Hans-Jörg Rheinberger Max Planck Cultures of Experiment It is generally accepted that the development of the modern sciences is rooted in experiment. Yet for a long time, experimentation did not occupy a prominent role in history of science. With the ‚practical turn’ in science studies, this situation has begun to change. This paper is concerned with a particular aspect of scientific practice, which can be addressed as ‚cultures of experiment.’ Monday, November 12, 2012 Fine Arts FA 015 5:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m. NOTE LOCATION & TIME CHANGE
Nov 30 Westfall Lecture
University of Sussex
Title: Digital scholarship and the mental worlds of Isaac Newton
Abstract: Robert Iliffe Department of History University of Sussex Digital scholarship and the mental worlds of Isaac Newton Since Newton's non-scientific papers were sold at auction in 1936, there has been a progressive revelation of information about the little known private mental life of Isaac Newton. Although his writings on alchemical and religious topics were effectively available on microfilm by the mid-1980s, the online publication of all of his writings dramatically improves our ability to investigate this unknown world. In this talk I examine how the digital medium -- coupled with hard scholarly work -- has facilitated the acquisition of new insights into the development of Newton's beliefs and research practices. I conclude by considering some of the wider implications for humanities research that arise from creating and engaging with the online Newton. WESTFALL LECTURE Friday, November 30, 2012 Ballantine 003 4:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m.
Dec 7 Workshop on the History of Biology, in Honor of Fred Churchill
Title: Opening session of a two-day workshop in honor of Fred Churchill, on the occasion of his 80th birthday
Friday, 7 December
4:00–4:50 pm: Mark Borello, “Evolving Individuals: Some Thoughts on Development and Evolution”
5:00–5:50 pm: Alice Dreger, “The Problem of Doing a History of the Present: Trying to Track the Off‐Label Use of Prenatal Dexamethasone for Fetal Sexual Normalization”
6:00–8:00 pm: Reception at the University Club (IMU), President’s Room
Saturday, 8 December
8:00–8:30 am: Bagels and Coffee in BH004
8:30–9:00 am: Greetings and Birthday Wishes
9:10–10:00 am: Jane Maienschein, “Understanding Embryos from Wilhelm Roux to Synthetic Biology Today”
10:10–10:40 am: Ashley Inglehart, “Malpighi, Galen, and the Egg”
10:40–11:00 am: Coffee Break
11:00–11:50 am: Garland Allen, “Eugenics around the Campfire: Charles M. Goethe's Ideology of Eugenics and Conservation”
11:50–1:30 pm: Lunch Break
1:30–2:20 pm: Marsha Richmond, “What's Gender Got To Do With It? Women and Academic Biology, 1880‐1940”
2:30–3:00 pm: Ryan Ketcham, “Science, Intuition and Art: Classifying Goethe in the Nineteenth‐Century”
3:00–3:20 pm: Coffee Break
3:20–4:10 pm: Paul Farber, “Darwinian Evolution and Human Race”
4:20–5:10 pm: Fred Churchill, “The Wise for Weis., but not Forever”
7:00 pm: Dinner at The Farm, 108 E. Kirkwood Ave