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Comparative Studies 2341

Autumn 2014
Professor David Horn

Class meetings: Tuesday and Thursday, 9:10-10:05, Page Hall 0010
Office Hours: Tuesday, 12:30-2:00, or by appointment, Hagerty Hall 428
Phone: 292-2559; E-mail:

Recitation sections:
Seth Josephson (
Tuesday, 4:105:05, Journalism 0139
Wednesday, 3:003:55, Jennings Hall 0164

Gabriel Piser (
Thursday, 4:105:05, Scott Lab E0105
Friday, 3:003:55, Hagerty Hall 0351

I. Course Description

This course explores, from a variety of perspectives, the multiple relations among social
and cultural formations, scientific and technical work, and the production and
circulation of knowledge. Topics include the everyday life of the laboratory; the
shifting boundaries of science and other ways of knowing; the political and ethical
contours of scientific and technical work; and the social effects of objects and
technological systems.

Lectures will frequently focus on material not addressed in the assigned readings, as
well as introduce terms for which you will be responsible on exams and in papers;
recitation meetings will be devoted to careful consideration of texts and films, and to
the review of issues raised in lectures. It is therefore essential that you complete each
weeks readings before attending your recitation section, be present at all lectures and
screenings, and be prepared to ask questions and contribute to discussions.

You will be graded on the basis of your attendance and participation in lecture and
recitation sections (10%), and on the basis of your performance on an in-class midterm
exam (30%), a five-page essay (30%), and a final exam (30%). Exams will combine short
answer/identification and essay questions. More than two unexcused absences from
lectures or recitation sections will result in a grade penalty.

This class fulfills the GE Cultures and Ideas and the Diversity: Global Studies
requirements (see section VI below), as well as the College of Engineerings Professional
Ethics requirement. Assessments of progress toward GE and course goals will be

incorporated into exams and writing assignments.

II. Texts (available at SBX and Barnes & Noble)

Ruth Schwartz Cowan, More Work For Mother: The Ironies Of Household Technology From
The Open Hearth To The Microwave (Basic, 1985)
Sharon Traweek, Beamtimes and Lifetimes: The World of High Energy Physicists (Harvard
University Press, 1988)
Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each
Other (Basic, 2012)
Langdon Winner, The Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in an Age of High
Technology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986)

III. Schedule of Readings

Week 1: Introduction

28 August Introduction

Week 2: Technology, Science, and Society

2 September Lecture: Our Two Cultures

4 September Lecture: Technologies, Lives, and Politics

Read: Winner, Technologies as Forms of Life and Techn and
Politeia, in The Whale and the Reactor, 318 and 4058

Week 3: Black Boxes and Blurred Boundaries

9 September Lecture: Making Facts and Machines

11 September Lecture: Contested Terms: Science and Its Others

Read: Bruno Latour, Opening Pandoras Black Box, in Science in Action
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987), 117 (Carmen)

Andrew Ross, New Age: A Kinder, Gentler Science? in Strange

Weather: Culture, Science, and Technology in the Age of Limits
(London: Verso, 1991), 1574 (Carmen)
Week 4: Science and Revolution

16 September Lecture: Normal and Abnormal Science

18 September Lecture: Incommensurability

Read: Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1962), 134, 5265, 111-135 (Carmen)

Week 5: Science and Difference

23 September Lecture: Revolution and the Female Skeleton

25 September Lecture: Technologies for the Production of Difference

Read: Steven Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man, 5161, 176263 (Carmen)

Week 6: Science and Culture

30 September Lecture: Culture of No Culture

2 October Lecture: Rites of Passage

Read: Traweek, Beamtimes and Lifetimes, ix162

Week 7: Making Physicists, Making Bombs

7 October Film: Day after Trinity: J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Atomic Bomb,
Jon Else (Pyramid, 1981)

9 October Film: Day After Trinity (continued)

Week 8: Technology, Ethics, and Politics

14 October Lecture: Knowing Sin?

Read: Winner, Do Artifacts Have Politics? in The Whale and the Reactor,


16 October In-class midterm

Week 9: Domestic Technologies

21 October Lecture: Gender and Technology: The Story of Man the Hunter

23 October Lecture: Engineering the Domestic Sphere

Read: Schwartz Cowan, More Work For Mother, 315, 69150, 192216

Week 10: Energy

28 October Lecture: Questioning Questionable Questions (Piser)

30 October Lecture: Science for What Future? (Piser)

Read: Laura Nader, Barriers to Thinking New about Energy, Physics
Today (1981), 9, 99100, 102, 104 (Carmen)

Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, The Collapse of Western
Civilization: A View from the Future, Daedalus 142 (2013), 4058

Week 11: Risk and Crisis

4 November Lecture: The Life and Death of Nature

6 November Lecture: Making and Taking Risks

Read: Winner, The State of Nature Revisited and On Not Hitting the
Tar Baby, in The Whale and the Reactor, 12154

Week 12: Technologies of Food

11 November No Class (Veterans Day)

13 November Movie: Food, Inc., Robert Kenner (Magnolia, 2008)

Paper due
Week 13: Animals and Us

18 November Movie: Food, Inc. (continued)

20 November Lecture: Eating Animals (Josephson)

Read: John Berger, Why Look at Animals? in About Looking (Pantheon,
1980), 328 (Carmen)

Week 14: The Limits of the Human

25 November Lecture: Post-human/Trans-human (Josephson)

27 November No Class (Thanksgiving)


Week 15: Redefining the Social

2 December Lecture: The Human and the Machine

4 November Lecture: Cyber-community

Read: Turkle, Alone Together, selections

Week 16: Summing Up

9 December Lecture: Ethics and Politics Revisited

Read: Winner, Brandy, Cigars, and Human Values, in The Whale and the
Reactor, 15563

12 December Final exam

IV. Students With Disabilities

Students with disabilities that have been certified by the Office for Disability Services
will be appropriately accommodated and should inform the instructor as soon as
possible of their needs. The Office for Disability Services is located in 150 Pomerene
Hall, 1760 Neil Avenue; telephone 292-3307, TDD 292-0901;

V. Academic Integrity

It is the responsibility of the Committee on Academic Misconduct to investigate or
establish procedures for the investigation of all reported cases of student academic
misconduct. The term academic misconduct includes all forms of student academic
misconduct wherever committed; illustrated by, but not limited to, cases of plagiarism
and dishonest practices in connection with examinations. Instructors shall report all
instances of alleged academic misconduct to the committee (Faculty Rule 3335-5-487).
For additional information, see the Code of Student Conduct (

VI. GE Expected Learning Outcomes

1. Cultures and Ideas

Expected Learning Outcomes:

1. Students analyze and interpret major forms of human thought, culture, and

2. Students evaluate how ideas influence the character of human beliefs, the
perception of reality, and the norms that guide human behavior.

2. Diversity (Global Studies)

Expected Learning Outcomes:

1. Students understand some of the political, economic, cultural, physical, social,
and philosophical aspects of one or more of the worlds nations, peoples and
cultures outside the U.S.

2. Students recognize the role of national and international diversity in shaping
their own attitudes and values as global citizens.

Comparative Studies 2341 enables students to analyze and interpret scientific
discourses and technological systems, in and outside the United States; to evaluate how
ideas shape the norms that guide scientific and technical work; and to ask sophisticated

questions about the cultural contexts and social effects of new sciences and
technologies. In these ways and others, it prepares students to be self-aware global