history of science


Since I seem to be blogging again, here’s a links post on recent topics in publichistoryland.

Various reports, updates and roundups on the document thieves who targeted historical societies, archives and presidential libraries.

 

A costumed first-person interpreter at Plimoth Plantation has a piece in The Hairpin entitled The Ladies of the 17th Century Were Way More Hardcore than You.  The comments alone are priceless, ex:  “Old Sturbridge Village or gtfo.”

Just released by Left Coast:  Letting Go?: Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World, edited by Bill Adair, Ben Filene and Laura Koloski.  It’s full of pieces by fabulous museum, history, tech and education people. I will certainly pick up a copy.

The UMass Amherst public history program is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a two-day conference about the future.  Public History 2036 (pdf) will take place on campus Sept 23-24 and features lots of great folks.

Rebekah Higgitt, intrepid historian of science, has branched out from Whewell’s Ghost with a new blog, Teleskopos.  Highly recommended.

Historian of geology Naomi Oreskes has been using history for good to intervene in climate change debates.

Citizen History at the Holocaust Museum.

Forecasting the future of museum ethics, a project of AAM’s Center for the Future of Museums and the Institute of Museum Ethics at Seton Hall.

Have a wildfire?  Call a historian.

A new exhibit space for Harvey Cushing’s collection of brains.

The “Three Societies”–the History of Science Society, the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science and the British Society for the History of Science–meet together every 4 years.  Next July, they’ll be meeting in Philadelphia.

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Remember this conference?

This great event about the Public History of Science and Technology will be happening September 11-14 at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC.  The program is up and registration will soon follow. I’ll be talking about cabinets of curiosity and contemporary museum practice on the 13th, and the program is filled with great colleagues.  Hope to see you there.

Call for Papers:

The Public History of Science and Technology

University of South Carolina

Columbia, SC

September 11-14, 2011

What role does history play in the general public’s understanding of science and technology? History is often the tool for hooking audiences and making science relevant to daily life.  From anecdotal introductions to sidebars in science textbooks, history plays an important, but often unexamined role, in explaining science to broad audiences.  Most people first encounter the history of science and technology in their K-12 science classes – their only formal science training – even if it is incidental and unrecognized.  They continue to encounter the history of science and technology through a variety of informal venues: museums, libraries, television documentaries, and popular science writing.

The University of South Carolina will host a conference September 11-14 to address the interaction of history, science, and the public.  This conference seeks to examine: What role does the history of science play in the public’s understanding of science and technology? What is the role of museums, libraries, television documentaries, and popular writing in educating audiences about science?  How can historians of science and technology best interact with science policy makers? What can university history departments and public history programs do to teach future science popularizers and educators?

The conference will open on Sunday afternoon with a reception and exhibit opening at McKissick Museum.   The conference will continue on Monday and Tuesday with traditional paper panels and roundtable discussions.  On Wednesday, there will be two half-day workshops.  The first, led by Ann Johnson, will focus on histories of emerging technologies, particularly in policy contexts.  The second, led by Allison Marsh, will focus on museums, material culture, and training public historians.

Potential themes to address include:

·History of Science and public policy

·History of scientific education and scientific literacy

·Library collections and the history of science

·Technologies of conservation of museum artifacts

·Opportunities for digital technologies in public history

·Journalism and writing in the history of science for the “general,” non-academic audience

·The role of federal government agencies in supporting the history of science

·The value of internships in training scholars to use material culture in their research

·How does the history of medicine affect current decisions about care?

·The place of history in discussions about emerging technologies in the context of both policy and public understanding

Keynote speakers include:

  Robert Bud, The Science Museum, London
  Sharon Babaian, Canada Science and Technology Museum
  Peter Liebhold, National Museum of American History
  Zuoyue Wang, California State University, Pomona

Deadline for Proposals: April 15, 2011

Accepted presenters will be notified by May 10, 2011

Conference organizers will accept both individual paper proposals and panel proposals. Alternative formats, such as roundtable discussions or object-based interactive discussions, are encouraged. Proposals should be no more than one page long and should be accompanied by a one page CV.  Email proposals as a single pdf document to Allison Marsh, marsha@mailbox.sc.edu. Please list “PHoST Proposal” in the subject line.

Limited travel support is available for graduate students, junior, and independent scholars. If seeking travel funds, please include in your proposal a budget and justification for your transportation costs.  Students must include a brief letter of support from their advisors confirming their status as graduate students and indicating how the conference will enhance their studies.

Conference papers will be considered for possible publication as an edited volume.

Conference Organizers: Ann Johnson (annj@sc.edu) and Allison Marsh
(marsha@mailbox.sc.edu).

We would also like to draw your attention to the Atlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy, September 15-17, 2011 at Georgia Tech’s Global Learning Center. Atlanta is only a 3-4 hour drive or short flight from Columbia.  For more information about the Atlanta conference, see their website at http://www.atlantaconference.org.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the Google Art Project, a neat visualization of works of art in 17 big Western art museums.  Official blog announcementBehind-the-scenes blog from the Tate. This post at Curator by Nancy Proctor has comments from lots of smart people thinking about museum/web issues and  is a great overview of the strengths and weaknesses of the project:  the advantages of Street View technology over QTVR, major props for getting big museums to agree to this, the lack of searching across museums, interface issues and the questionable usefulness of the gallery metaphor.  Since this project is all art museums I am also grateful that it is not called the Google Museum Project.

The Brooklyn Museum’s newest experiment is a game called Split Second, which requires you to make quick decisions about artworks to help plan an exhibit on Indian painting.  Go do it now, they need lots of participants. Split Second in the NYT.

Shane Landrum has kicked off a Wikipedia Women’s History Project, in response both to recent reports of a gender gap among wikipedians and the paucity/incompleteness of women’s history articles.  Could this be the straw that finally gets me to edit wikipedia articles?  Maybe. 

Rebekah Higgitt has been fighting the good fight for cultural history of science–contra folks who think that it’s not worthwhile to try to understand any kind of  “pseudoscience” in its cultural context,and that doing so is treachery to a triumphalist vision of contemporary science.  Much respect and gratitude to Becky.  As a historian of quackery and (new project!) of parapsychology, there but for the grace of God go I.

Congrats to this year’s Cliopatria Award winners, recognizing the best in history blogging.  Lots of great stuff to add to the ol’ feed reader.  No explicitly public history-themed blogs made the cut this year, but a history of science blog did win best individual blog, so at least one of my teams was represented. Visit Cliopatria for the judges’ remarks on the blogs.

Best Group Blog: US Intellectual History

Best Individual Blog: Renaissance Mathematicus

Best New Blog: PhD Octopus

Best Post: Mike Dash, “The Emperor’s Electric Chair,” A Blast from the Past, 9 September.

Best Series of Posts: David Blight, William Freehling, Adam Goodheart, Jamie Malanowski, and others, “DisunionNYT‘s Opinionator, 30 October- .

Best Writer: Lapata@Chapati Mystery

A few interesting (though short-term) jobs in the public history of science, technology and medicine:

Project Leader, Plastics Collection, Syracuse University

Syracuse University Library invites applications for the position of Plastics Collection Project Leader. This 18 month, benefits eligible position reports to the Director of Special Collections. The successful candidate will lead an ambitious effort to build the plastics history collection, which includes artifacts, printed materials, and archives, and oversee the ongoing development of the web portal plastics.syr.edu.

In 2008, Syracuse University Library took custody of a collection of thousands of artifacts, books, and archival collections documenting the history of the plastics industry. Most of these materials are housed in the library’s Special Collections Research Center (scrc.syr.edu) where interested patrons may consult them. This bold new collecting area requires a well-rounded and entrepreneurial leader to administer its continued growth.

Requirements (listed in order of priority):
Define collecting goals for library’s plastics collection.
Oversee the continued development of the web portal plastics.syr.edu.
Build relationships with industry leaders in order to attract donation of collection materials and cash gifts.
Suffuse plastics collection into Syracuse’s many academic teaching programs.
Convene plastics advisory board made up of interested plastics industry and academic parties.
Answer reference questions about the collection and arrange for patron use.

Qualifications:
Master’s degree in the history of science, design, technology, or business (PhD preferred) OR master’s degree in library and information science or museum studies.
Work experience in academic libraries, archives, or museum.
General knowledge about the role of plastics in history and society.
Ability to work with individuals from diverse backgrounds, including academia, industry, and business.
Proven record of leadership in programming and outreach.

Salary and Benefits: 18-month, benefits-eligible position, full-time, 37.5 hours per week. Annual Salary: $50,000. Information regarding the University’s generous benefits package can be found on the Department of Human Resources website at http://humanresources.syr.edu/benefits/.

Contact: Syracuse University requires that you complete an online application. To complete an online application through the Internet, please go to http://www.sujobopps.com. Applicants should attach both a cover letter and resume with the application and include the names of three professional references.

Application deadline: Position will remain open until filled. Syracuse University is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Curator, Koch Institute Public Gallery, MIT Museum

The MIT Museum and the MIT Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research seek to appoint a Curator, for a period of 15 months in the first instance, starting on or about January 15, 2010. The Curator of the Koch Institute Public Gallery will have direct responsibility for developing and delivering the first exhibitions that will be installed in the Koch Institute Public Gallery to coincide with the formal opening of the Koch Institute in 2011.

The new Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research will formally open in March 2011. The Institute will bring together cancer biologists and biological engineers in a pioneering “third revolution” initiative devoted to path-breaking research and training. A Public Gallery on the ground floor of the Koch Institute, in Kendall Square, Cambridge, will provide a suite of exhibitions about cancer-related and other bio-medical science and engineering at MIT. The Koch Institute is collaborating with the MIT Museum in the development, maintenance and renewal of these exhibitions as part of a larger Life Sciences and Technology Initiative at MIT.

The MIT Museum bridges between MIT and the wider community through galleries, exhibitions, educational and general visitor programs and the annual Cambridge Science Festival. The Museum holds major collections reflecting MIT’s accomplishments in research and innovation; and it continues to collect in key areas of current science and engineering.

The Curator will have direct responsibility to the MIT Museum Director for:

Exhibition-related research, including (but not confined to): Library and archive research on the history of MIT life sciences and technology; Interviews with key Koch Institute faculty, staff and students.

Development of detailed proposals for exhibition content, including: Research on candidate scientific, engineering and other elements; Research on the educational needs of key target audiences; Identification of appropriate objects, images, videos and other multi-media elements.

Drafting text (including exhibit labels).

Working with the Museum exhibition team and external consultants (exhibition designers, fabricators, etc.) to ensure the successful implementation of exhibit ideas and plans.

Supervising the installation of exhibits in the gallery, to ensure successful delivery on time and budget.

The Curator of the Koch Institute Public Gallery will report to the Director of the Museum, and work closely with Museum, Koch Institute and other MIT staff.

This is a 15-month term position that may be renewable, depending on the availability of funding. Applicants must apply online through MIT’s Human Resources Dept. at http://hrweb.mit.edu/, position #mit-00006745. Please note that the review and hiring process will proceed without delay, and the successful candidate will be expected to assume the position immediately.
Job Requirements

The successful candidate will bring: A close acquaintance with the recent history and contemporary practice of the life sciences and technology, and preferably in cancer research; Previous experience (a minimum of 2 years) of working in informal science education and public outreach, preferably in a museum environment; Ability to work in a multi-disciplinary team of content specialists, exhibition management specialists, designers, fabricators, etc; Academic training (preferably at the doctoral level) in an appropriate subject area (life sciences and technology, and/or the history of the life sciences and technology, and/or science communication).

If you’d like to read my dissertation, here it is.

Please cite as:

Suzanne Fischer, “Diseases of Men:  Sexual Health and Medical Expertise in Advertising Medical Institutes, 1900-1930,” PhD diss., University of Minnesota, 2009.

Creative Commons License
Diseases of Men: Sexual Health and Medical Expertise in Advertising Medical Institutes, 1900-1930 by Suzanne M Fischer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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