Classes continue unabated; I’m almost back into the swing of things, as far as reading and working all the time.
I’ve not been particularly inspired by any readings lately, except Flatland. The Time Machine was also a good reread. I was also somewhat intrigued by Principles of Scientific Management; it’s surprisingly readable and it basically still informs a lot of management philosophy today. It’s a sort of capitalist manifesto.
For Narrative Histories, I read the superb The Murder of Helen Jewett. As far as garden-variety micro-history goes, it really doesn’t get much better (if you don’t mind reading about 1830’s NYC). Unfortunately, the next book was the dull Judge Sewall’s Apology, a masterful boringification of the Salem witch trials.
We’ve yet to read a whole book, or anything really insightful, in the sociology of knowledge course, but it gives me a chance to reflect on some the methods and approaches of sociology that I’m only slightly familiar with. I’m going to write my paper for that class on the role of letters of recommendation in science; last semester I wrote a research paper based on G Evelyn Hutchinson’s letters of recommendation, so I hope to be able to strengthen that paper with the insights of a more general look at recommendations. I’m not sure if any literature exists in sociology or if I’ll have to make it up as I go.
For Science, Technology and Modernity, I’m probably going to do my research paper on visual images in science pedagogy and popular science. It seems like abstract images conveying scientific content were really rare (especially at a non-expert level) before the mid-20th century. Graphs and charts were virtually non-existent in popular literature, and most scientific illustrations were obviously aiming for naturalistic representation of actual sights. So it seems like this shift toward more abstraction of concepts visually went along with the other changes that get lumped into “modernism” and “modernity.” We’ll see how well that thesis bears out once I get down to looking at lots of sources, and hopefully I can pin down the timeframe a little better.
Meanwhile, I’ve redone the Lamarck sticker; it’s slicker now, and I put it on t-shirts. I ordered one today and plan to wear it to the History of Science Society meeting.