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Graduate/Upper Division Seminar in

Global History of Media Technologies & Science

Before instrumental techniques there is the ensemble of techniques of the body.
Marcel Mauss, 1979

Bryce Peake
Office Hours TBA


This is a seminar in the global historiography and theories of technology studies. While STS has been
accused of being a highly paraochial field, there is a breadth of scholarship that examines the social roles
of technology throughout the world. These scholars have pushed researchers to reconsider the role of
technology in processes of modernization, colonization, liberation, and collaboration. Our goal will be to
map and assess both theories and histories of the STS field, and explore what a focus on science and
technology as social processes reveals about the contours of the world.

This is a reading intensive seminar. Be sure to allocate a great deal of time to read during your days.

Some of the reading is difficult from a research standpoint, and traffics in multiple disciplinary
languages. You do not need to focus on every detail of every article or chapter. Read for the thrust of
the arguments, the big idea or ideas, how this might within or change the ways we think about the
topics of the course, and then evaluate and integrate that understanding into your thinking as it makes
sense to you. Be skeptical, yet always open to change.

Email Policy
The instructor is available by email for making appointments to discuss readings, grades, or your
individual concerns and/or interests. Due to the amount of email I receive regularly, all emails should
have the subject line International Communication, or may not be answered in a timely fashion.
Please allow 24 hours for a response to your email.

Questions regarding readings should be asked in class or during office hours. If you do not have an
opportunity at either of those times, please email me to make an appointment to discuss your questions
and concerns. I cannot answer these questions via email in most instances. A good rule of thumb: if it
requires a yes or no answer, email is perfect; if it requires a more substantial answer, office hours are the
ideal time to chat.

1. Yourself: Listen carefully. Take plenty of notes. Ask questions if you arent sure about
something. Participate.
2. Your Classmates: It always helps to discuss material with other students enrolled in your class.
Also, in the event of an absence, you will need to rely on a classmate to help you get notes on
what you missed.
3. Your Instructor: Take advantage of my office hours: I am here to help you do well in this class.
I love to field questions, so please ask plenty.

Final Paper Proposal (Due Week 5)
By week 5, you should develop an idea for a research paper that you will conduct using the
materials from class. This can be theorycraft (how might the combination of multiple authors
reveal a new approach to listening), an empirical study (applying/bettering theory using
systematic research methods), or an exegesis on how a philosopher/social theorist left out of the
sound studies canon discusses listening (e.g. Hannah Arendt).

Your proposal should include 1) an introduction [similar to that you would find at the
beginning of a research article], 2) 2-3 research questions/arguments you will make, 3) how
you will make those arguments/answer those questions. It should be no more than 4 single
spaced pages.

Mapping the Field (Due Week 9)
On Week 9, you should turn in a graphical presentation of how you map the field of sound
studies. Your map can be based on conversations (who is talking to who/not talking), historical
events (the introduction of the mp3, etc.), or any other organizing method. Your map should
come with a two page justification that explains 1) why you have mapped the field the way you
have (i.e. what important information does it reveal?), and 2) what the limitations of mapping
the field in this way are.

First Draft of Paper (Due Week 12)
We will do peer editing/critique of drafts for week 12 (edits/critiques due week 13). Each
person will be assigned two papers. You should plan to bring two copies of your paper with you
to class on week 12 to hand to your two (randomly selected) reviewers.

Final Paper (Due Week 15, bring copies for your classmates)
Your final paper (partially described above) is due at the beginning of class on Week 15. No
extensions will be granted. Papers should be no more than 8,000 words (including footnotes).
While there is no minimum page number, you are expected to develop and support a coherent
article in line with the expectations of publishing authors in the fields of media and
communication studies.

You should bring a physical copy for each person in the course. Class members are expected to
read all of their peers work before the next class, and vote for which papers they would like to
hear more about (votes are due 2 days before final class). On the final day of the seminar, the
authors of the top 4 papers will present more about their papers and have an opportunity for
peer-to-peer critiques.


Week 1: Defining the field
David Banks, An Extremely Brief History of Science and Technology Studies
Lorraine Daston, Science Studies and the History of Science
Bruno Latour, Technology is society made durable
Trevor Pinch and Wiebe Bijker, The social construction of facts and artifacts
Erik Van der Vleuten, Towards a transnational history of technology: meanings, promises,

Week 2: Foundational Literature Starting Points
Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, The Leviathan and the Air-Pump
Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern

Week 3: Historical Overviews
Merritt Roe Smith and Leo Marx, Does Technology Drive History? The Dilemma of Technological
Determinism (Williams, Marx Chapters)
Paul David, Clio and the economics of QWERTY
David Edgerton, From innovation to use: ten eclectic theses on the historiography of
Selections from Peter Galison, Einsteins Clocks and Poincares Maps: Empires of Time

Week 4: Gender and Technology
Donna Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature
Linnda Caporael et al, Tinkering with Gender
Francesca Bay, Introduction in Technology and Gender: Fabrics of Power in Late Imperial China
Ruth Schwartz Cohen, Twentieth-Century Changes in Household technology and The
Roads Not Taken: Alternative Social and Technical Approaches to Housework in More Work
for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Heart to the Microwave

Week 5: Prosthesis
Mara Mills, Media & Prosthesis: The Vocoder, the Artificial Larynx, and the History of
Signal Processing
Michele Friedner and Stefan Helmreich, When deaf studies meets sound studies
Steven Connor, Edisons Teeth: Touching Hearing, in Hearing Cultures: Essays on Sound,
Listening, and Modernity
R.A.R. Edwards, Hearing aids are not deaf: a historical perspective on technology in the Deaf
world, in The disability studies reader

Week 6: Sound
Emily Thompson, The origins of modern acoustics, in The Soundscape of Modernity
Stefan Helmreich, An Anthropologist underwater: immersive soundscapes, submarine
cyborgs, and transductive ethnography.
Cyrus Mody, The sounds of science: listening to laboratory practices
Sophia Roosth, Screaming Yeast: sonocytology, cytoplasmic milieus, and cellular

Week 7: Industrial Research
David Hounshell and John Smith, Science and Corporate Strategy, DuPont R&D
Bruno Latour, Aramis, or the Love of Technology

Week 8: Science Before 1940
Gyan Prakash, Another Reason: Science and the Imagination of Modern India
Larraine Daston and Peter Galison, Objectivity

Week 9: Science, Technology, and the Cold War
Vannevar Bush, Science: The Endless Frontier
Zuoyue Wang, Transnational science during the Cold War
John Krige, Embedding the national in the global: US-France collaboration in space in the

Week 10: Technology and the State I
Paul Edwards, The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America

Week 11: Technology and the State II (Egypt)
Timothy Mitchell, Rule of Experts: Egypt, Technopolitics, Modernity
On Barak, On Time: Technology and Temporality in Modern Egypt

Week 12: Infrastructural Technologies: Power
Thomas Hughes, Networks of Power: Electrification in Western Society 1880-1930
Ronen Shamir, Current Flow: The Electrification of Palestine

Week 13: Urban Technoscapes
Brian Larkin, Signal and Noise
Stephen Graham and Simon Marvin, Splintering urbanism: networked infrastructure, technological
mobilities, and the urban condition

Week 14: Mapping
Mathew Edney, Mapping an empire: The Geographical Construction of British India, 1765-1843
Dianne Chisholm, Rhizome, ecology, geophilosophy
Finis Dunaway, Beyond wilderness: Robert Adams, New Topographics, and the aesthetics of
ecological citizenship.

Week 15: Petromodernity
Edward Burtynsky, OIL
Stephanie LeManager, The Aesthetics of Petroleum, after OIL! and Petro-Melancholia: The
BP Blowout and the arts of grief
Timothy Mitchell, Carbon Democracy
Imre Szeman, System failure: Oil, Futurity, and the Anticipation of Disaster

Week 16: Computers/Computing
Ron Eglash, African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design
Jonathan Sterne, MP3: The Meaning of a Format