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12 January 2023

Dear historians!

We are delighted to welcome you to Topics in the History of Modern Science and Medicine! This is a small, discussion-based, reading-driven seminar. Our goal is to share with you one of the most exciting areas of current research in the history of science and medicine. You will learn in the process what 'exciting current research' looks like in history (of science and medicine) and how to engage with it.

Most of the course resources and information will be on the course website and Resource List. Our discussion each week (including week 1!) will be based on a core set of readings marked 'Essential' in the Resource List, most of which are available as e-books through the university library.

It is essential that you engage with the 'Essential' readings for each class before we meet. The 'Recommended' and 'Further' readings will also be helpful, but are less urgent. Note that we say 'engage' rather than just 'read'! Engaging with a book or article does not mean starting with the first word and looking at every word after that until you reach the end. We will practice in this course how to read works strategically and non-linearly to understand them in the context of a current field of research.

For week 1, there are two e-books to focus on before our Thursday morning meeting. For each of these, you should carefully read the introduction in order to understand the author's view of their topic and its relevance. You have understood these when you can sum them up in a few sentences in your notebook without looking at or borrowing any of the authors' text. Then, quickly look through the rest of the book and figure out the answers to the following questions:

  • what major time periods, people, institutions, and events are the focus of the writing?
  • what evidence does the author use to analyse these, and how does the author do so?
  • how is the book structured, and how does the big-picture argument derive from the chapter-level arguments?

You are ready for our discussion when you can answer these questions, at least tentatively. It will be challenging at first, but trust us that you will get a lot better at it and it will prove extremely worthwhile.

After you have prepared in this way, use remaining preparatory time that you have to look in more detail at topics or sections that interested you, and/or explore other readings from the resource list. The short articles by Bouk/Ackermann/boyd and Lemov will be especially helpful for thinking about major upcoming themes in the course. There is plenty of time to return to these later if you don't have a chance to consider them now.

Please feel free to email us with any questions in the meantime.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Michael and Lukas

topics/priv/announcements.txt · Last modified: 2023/12/17 12:12 by mjb