Perspectives on Science, Technology and Landscape in Time and Space

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Course Contents

This is a broad-based course that rests on a few central books in the academic sub-fields of our PhD programme. In this version of the course we started with a list of almost 50 books that have now become 13. (The original and also incomplete list can be found at the end of this memo.) Even though these 13 books cannot span the central knowledge of our field, they give a ground and an orientation important to the PhD training. There are books that can be rather easily sorted into either history of science, history of technology or environmental history, but there are also books that bridge several fields. They are primarily historical which means that the list lacks key books which are non-historical but have had great influence.

A list of books that have over a long time been established as central and important for a field necessarily reflects the composition of those active in that field over time. Thus this list does not give room for the full diversity of authors and topics that are present in contemporary studies. Some efforts were made to balance this; we have also taken into account that you have already been assigned a few books in earlier compulsory courses.

Finally, this course offers an opportunity to put an emphasis on reading books rather than articles. In the humanities, books have been central in knowledge production and will most likely continue to remain important. Writing and reading books is a skill that will be touched upon in the discussions.

Course Objectives

By the end of the course students will have developed an understanding of some of the central books in the fields of history of science, history of technology and environmental history and be able to relate them and their content to the development of the field. Students will also have improved their reading skills.

Schedule and Format

The course runs January through March 2020. It consists of 13 classes of three hours each. All classes will take place in the large seminar room, in the main corridor on the top floor of Teknikringen 74D, except for the one March 6th which will take place in 217.

Course Requirements

Students are required to read all course material and be prepared to discuss the readings in class. Preparations might vary between sessions. In particular, a teacher might suggest that a few chapters of a book can be read extensively. If nothing else is stated, a 2-4 page memo, 12 p in prose, should be sent to the teacher two days before class. Such a memo should summarize and critically discuss the book.

Together with the discussion in class the memos are the basis of the examination. Teachers can choose whether or not to use the memos in class. Students are, however, expected to use their own preparations in class. Make it a habit to try out your conclusion or to ask your question in class rather than expecting the teacher to give feedback afterwards. Teachers can choose to give feedback on memos. However, if a student has failed the teacher will ask for a new memo or for clarification of certain points.

An attendance of at least 10 classes is demanded.

Teachers and coordination

Nina Wormbs, coordinator,


Marco Armiero

Per Högselius

Kati Lidström

Sverker Sörlin

Lize-Marié van der Watt

Nina Wormbs

Cecilia Åsberg

Sofia Jonsson, administrative support



Bray, Francesca, The rice economies: technology and development in Asian societies, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1986

Cowan, Ruth Schwartz, More work for mother: the ironies of household technology from the open hearth to the microwave, Basic Books, New York, 1983

Cronon, William, Nature's metropolis: Chicago and the Great West, 1. ed., W.W. Norton, New York, 1991

Crosby, Alfred W., Ecological imperialism: the biological expansion of Europe, 900-1900, Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1986

Edgerton, David, The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900. London: Profile Books, 2008.

Haraway, Donna Jeanne, Primate visions: gender, race, and nature in the world of modern science, Routledge, New York, 1989

Headrick, Daniel R., The tools of empire: technology and European imperialism in the nineteenth century, Oxford U.P., New York, 1981

Kuhn, Thomas S., The structure of scientific revolutions, Univ. of Chicago Pr., Chicago, 1962

Merchant, Carolyn, The death of nature: women, ecology, and the scientific revolution, [New ed.], Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1989

Mumford, Lewis, Technics and Civilization. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1934.

Shapin, Steven & Schaffer, Simon, Leviathan and the air-pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the experimental life : including a translation of Thomas Hobbes, Dialogus physicus de natura aeris by Simon Schaffer, Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, N.J., 1985

Tilley, Helen, Africa as a living laboratory: empire, development, and the problem of scientific knowledge, 1870-1950, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Ill., 2011

White, Richard, The organic machine: The remaking of the Columbia River, Hill and Wang, New York, 1995


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