History and Theory
The History and Theory Working Group focuses on theoretical and methodological issues such as philosophy of history, historical research, interpretation, and narrative—not necessarily confined to the history of science. The working group meets monthly to discuss a colleague’s work in progress or to discuss readings that are of particular interest to participants. Meetings are usually held at the Consortium offices in Philadelphia from 6:00 to 7:30 on first Tuesdays. Scholars located anywhere can also participate online.
If you would like to join this working group please contact or .
Suman Seth is Associate Professor, Department of Science and Technology Studies, Cornell University. He works on the social, cultural, and intellectual history of modern science, including history of physical sciences (particularly quantum theory), gender and science, & science, race, and colonialism. Read more about his research here.
Laura Stark is Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt University’s Center for Medicine, Health, and Society, and Associate Editor of the journal History and Theory. She has published works on the history of medicine, morality, and the modern state, and pieces on social theory. Read more about her research here.
February 7, 2017
- December 6, 2016
- The group discussed two readings:
- Bill Brown, “Overture” and “Coda” from Other Things (Chicago ; London: The University of Chicago Press, 2015);
- Bill Brown, “Thing Theory,” Critical Inquiry 28, no. 1 (2001): 1–22.
- November 1, 2016
- The group discussed two articles:
Marisol De La Cadena, “Indigenous Cosmopolitics in the Andes: Conceptual Reflections beyond ‘Politics,’” Cultural Anthropology 25, no. 2 (May 1, 2010): 334–70 and
Tim Ingold, “Materials against Materiality,” Archaeological Dialogues 14, no. 1 (June 2007): 1–16.
- October 4, 2016
- This year’s theme for the History & Theory Working Group is “ontology and materiality.” They began with a discussion of two essays: Greg Anderson’s “Retrieving the Lost Worlds of the Past: The Case for an Ontological Turn” and Paul Roth’s “Ways of Pastmaking.”
- May 3, 2016
- The group discussed Michel Serres with Bruno Latour, Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time (Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 1995): 43-76, and John Zammito, “History/Philosophy/Science: Some Lessons for Philosophy of History,” History and Theory 50 (2011): 390-413. Some group members also read Serres, “Mathematics and Philosophy: What Thales Saw...” in Hermes: Literature, Science, Philosophy (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982): 84-97.
- April 5, 2016
- The group discussed Andrew Shryock and Daniel Lord Smail, Deep History: The Architecture of Past and Present (University of California Press, 2011), Ch 1 & 2, Daniel Lord Smail, On Deep History and the Brain (University of California Press, 2008), Ch. 4, and Michael Bentley, “Past and ‘Presence’: Revisiting Historical Ontology,” History and Theory 45 (October 2006): 349-361.
- March 1, 2016
- Elly Truitt introduced Kathleen Davis, Periodization and Sovereignty: How Ideas of Feudalism and Secularization Govern the Politics of Time (UPenn, 2008), Introduction and Chapter 3; and Carol Symes, “When We Talk About Modernity,” American Historical Review (June, 2011): 715-26.
- February 2, 2016
- The group discussed Greg Dening, “Performing on the Beaches of the Mind: An Essay,” History and Theory 41, no. 1 (2002): 1-24, and Berber Bevernage, “Tales of pastness and contemporaneity: on politics of time in history and anthropology,” MS. )
- December 1, 2015
- The group discussed Ch. 1 of Johannes Fabian, Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes its Object (Columbia, 1983); Ch. 6 of David Carr, Time, Narrative, and History (Indiana University Press, 1991); and John Zammito, “Koselleck’s Philosophy of Historical Time(s) and the Practice of History,” History and Theory 43 (2004): 124-35.
- November 3, 2015
- The group discussed John Zammito, “Koselleck’s Philosophy of Historical Time(s) and the Practice of History,” History and Theory 43 (2004): 124-35; Johannes Fabian, Preface and Ch. 2, Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes its Object (Columbia, 1983); and David Carr, Chapter 1, “The temporal structure of experience and action,” Time, Narrative, and History (Indiana University Press, 1991)
- October 6, 2015
- The group discussed Dipesh Chakrabarty, “The Climate of History: Four Theses,” Critical Inquiry 35, no. 2 (2009): 197–222, and Reinhard Koselleck, “Chapter 6: Time and History,” from The Practice of Conceptual History: Timing History, Spacing Concepts (Stanford University Press, 2002).
- May 5, 2015
- The group discussed Peter Sloterdijk, The Art of Philosophy (Columbia University Press, 2012).
- April 7, 2015
- The group discussed Peter Sloterdijk’s You Must Change Your Life, pp. 190-242, 298-379, and 404-452.
- March 3, 2015
- The group discussed selections from You Must Change Your Life by Peter Sloterdijk: pp. 83-105 (Religions Do Not Exist); 109-130 (mostly Nietzsche and the Vertical); 131-159 (Wittgenstein and Foucault); and optionally 177-242 (other stuff, monasticism included) as well as a piece by William James on practice/verticality/energy/ethics, ”The Energies of Men,” and a review of an interesting recent book connecting James’ energetics to Foucault’s ascetics.
- February 3, 2015
- The group discussed pp 1-60 of You Must Change Your Life by Peter Sloterdijk along with his “Spheres Theory, Talking to Myself About the Poetics of Space” and Marie-Eve Morin’s “Cohabitating in the globalised world: Peter Sloterdijk’s global foams and Bruno Latour’s cosmopolitics”
- December 2, 2014
- Evan Hepler-Smith of Princeton University introduced pp. 272-370 of Creative Evolution by Henri Bergson as well as Chapters 1-2, 5, and Conclusion to Deleuze’s Bergsonism (Zone Books, 1991) and Eli During’s essay, “‘A History of Problems’: Bergson and the French Epistemological Tradition”, Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, v. 35, n. 1, January 2004.
- November 4, 2014
- The group discussed pp. 135-271 of Creative Evolution by Henri Bergson. Trans. Mitchell. NY: Dover, 1998 (reprint of 1911 edition).
- October 7, 2014
- The group discussed pp. 1-135 of Creative Evolution by Henri Bergson. Trans. Mitchell. NY: Dover, 1998 (reprint of 1911 edition) as well as pp. 62-81, “Neither Vitalism Nor Materialism” from Vibrant Matter by Jane Bennett.
- April 8, 2014
- The group discussed pp. 233-356 of Bruno Latour’s An inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns
- March 11, 2014
- The group discussed pp. 97-233 of Bruno Latour’s An inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns
- January 28, 2014
- John Tresch of UPenn introduced pp1-95, chps 1-3 of Bruno Latour’s An inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns
- December 17, 2013
- John Tresch of UPenn introduced selections from Peter Gordon’s Continental Divide: Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos as well as Hans-Joerg Rheinberger’s, “Gaston Bachelard and the Notion of ‘Phenomenotechnique’”.
- November 19, 2013
- John Tresch of UPenn introduced Michel Foucault’s “Introduction” to Georges Canguilhem’s Normal and Pathological and the chapter on “From Vital to Social Norms” as well as Chapter 5 of Peter Gordon’s Continental Divide: Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos (Harvard, 2010).
- October 8, 2013
- John Tresch of UPenn introduced Michael Friedman’s “Carnap, Cassirer, and Heidegger: The Davos Disputation and Twentieth Century Philosophy.” European Journal of Philosophy. Vol 10, issue 3, pages 263–274, December 2002 and Peter Gordon’s Continental Divide: Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos (Harvard, 2010), Chapter 1: 43-86.
- April 9, 2013
- Darin Hayton of Haverford College introduced Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas by Quentin Skinner, History and Theory 8 (1969): 3–53 and More Theses on the Philosophy of History by John Keane, Meaning and Context, ed. James Tully, 204–217
- March 12, 2013
- Tiago Saraiva of Drexel University introduced selections from Carlo Ginzburg’s Threads and Traces and Perry Anderson’s review The Force of the Anomaly
- February 12, 2013
- Babak Ashrafi of PACHS introduced selections from the 2012 Osiris, Clio Meets Science: The Challenges of History
Is It Time to Forget Science? Reflections on Singular Science and Its History by Jan Golinski
Science Is Dead; Long Live Science by Peter Dear
On the Historical Forms of Knowledge Production and Curation: Modernity Entailed Disciplinarity, Postmodernity Entails Antidisciplinarity by Paul Forman
- December 11, 2012
- John Tresch of UPenn introduced:
Kristin Asdal, Contexts in Action—And the Future of the Past in STS, STHV 37 (4, 2012): 379-403
Daston, L. Science Studies and the History of Science, Critical Inquiry 34 (4, 2009): 798-816.
Dear, P., and Jasanoff, S. Dismantling Boundaries in Science and Technology Studies, Isis 101 (4, 2010) 759-774.
- November 13, 2012:
- Audra Wolfe introduced the Prologue and The Search for Power (chp. 3) from The Age of Fracture by Daniel Rogers.
- October 9, 2012
- Darin Hayton of Haverford College introduced the Introduction and The History of Science (chp. 7) from The Descent of Ideas by Donald R. Kelley.
- April 25, 2012
- Darin Hayton introduced two reading by R. G. Collingwood, Historical Evidence from The Idea of History and Question and Answer from An Autobiography.
- March 28, 2012
- Lydia Pyne introduced Concepts of Nature, Concepts of Culture, chp. 3 of The Logic of the Cultural Sciences by Ernest Cassierer.
- February 23, 2012
- Joe Martin introduced What about the Natural Sciences, chp. 3 of The Social Construction of What? and How Inevitable are the Results of Successful Science? by Ian Hacking.
- January 25, 2012
- Darin Hayton introduced G.S. Jowett & V. O’Donnell, What is Propaganda, and How Does it Differ From Persuasion? from their book, Propaganda and Persuasion, 5th ed. (Sage, 2011), 1–48.
- November 22, 2011
- Kurt Macmillan introduced selections from Gender Trouble by Judith Butler.
- October 26, 2011
- Joana Radin introduced selections from Archive Fever by Jacques Derrida
- May 25, 2011
- Darin Hayton introduced Bourdieu, the Introduction and Chapter 3, “Habitus and the Space of Life Styles” from Distinction. Suggested further readings are Chapter 1, “The Aristocracy of Culture,” Chapter 2, “The Social Space and Its Transformations,” Chapter 3, “Culture and Politics”, the Conclusion and Appendix 1—as well as he following article from The Nation: “Faulty Towers: The Crisis in Higher Education” which is available at http://www.thenation.com/article/160410/faulty-towers-crisis-higher-education
- April 27, 2011
- Darin Hayton introduced Nobert Elias: “Towards a Theory of Civilizing Processes” in The Civilizing Process, pp. 365-447.