History 101.17

Spring 2010
Instructor (text): 
Day & Time: 
TuTh 9:30-11
Crispin Barker has a Ph.D. in the history of science and medicine from Yale and completed his dissertation on the history of the molecular biology of aging and telomere biology. He is presently investigating the influence of radiation genetics and medical physics on early molecular biologists and the role of laboratories at Berkeley, Colorado, Yale, Harvard, and similar institutions in elucidating the synthesis and significance of DNA termini.

This seminar explores recent scholarship at the frontiers of medical and scientific history, as a means of understanding the choices historians make when producing essays and articles and providing a historiographical foundation as the class embarks on the researching, drafting, and polishing of the senior thesis. How do historians of science and medicine decide what precisely to write about? What informs their research methodologies, analytical perspectives, and writing techniques? What happens when they address controversial subjects, such as sexuality, human experimentation, and pseudoscience? How do they make a contribution to historical knowledge, however modest, by analyzing primary sources?

This seminar is open to all students planning to write a thesis on any aspect of the history of medicine, engineering, the life sciences, or the physical sciences from the Scientific Revolution (broadly defined) to the twentieth century (exceptions to this should be approved by the instructor). Possible fields from which specific topics may be chosen include the history of gerontology; the history of conjuring, public science, and the ";philosophical experiment show";; the history of experiments, laboratories, and research policies on the Berkeley campus; the history of epidemic disease; the history of sex education; the history of pharmacology, therapeutics, and alternative medicine; and the history of religion, science, culture, and the state. The seminar will be run as a workshop, with breaks for research and writing, and will emphasize constructive peer criticism of drafts as well as one-on-one tutorials with the instructor. Please contact crispin.barker@berkeley.edu with any questions.