Friday, 23 September 2016 — 12:00 noon — WAG 316

Bruce Hunt, UT

“Themes and Problems in the History of Science: Thoughts on Organizing a Graduate Seminar”

Over the years I’ve offered a graduate seminar several times that I call “Themes and Problems in the History of Science”; I’m offering it again this fall. It aims at introducing students from a wide range of backgrounds to some of the ongoing issues in the field, in part by tracing how the history of science has developed as a discipline over the past century. Over the course of the semester we will read articles and book chapters that will take us from the internalism/externalism debates of the 1930s–1960s through the ideas of Thomas Kuhn on the structure of scientific revolutions and on to the debates over social constructivism that roiled the 1980s and 1990s. We will also take up recent controversies over whether there really was a Scientific Revolution, issues concerning the spread of science and technology around globe, and recent work on how scientific knowledge circulates.

Today I will speak very informally about how I went about putting together the seminar and will ask how taking such a look back at the genesis and development of the field might help us in on our own continuing work in the history of science. I would particularly like to solicit discussion of other texts and topics we might take up later in the seminar — I have deliberately left a couple of weeks open.


Bruce Hunt has taught courses in the history of science and technology at UT for many years. His research focuses on the interaction between the telegraph industry and electrical physics in 19th century Britain.