Members of our program coordinate the Research Seminar Series in Science & Technology Studies. The series features seminars on a wide range of STS-related topics, and is sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology Studies. Now in its 16th year, the series has hosted over 500 speakers from Canada and around the world. It is open to the public, and STS majors are especially encouraged to attend.
All seminars take place on Tuesdays from 12:30-2:00 in 203 Bethune College (Norman's) (unless otherwise noted) and are open to the public.
Light lunch will be provided.
Directions are available using the York University Map.
Omar W. Nasim (University of Regensburg)
Reframing Photography for the History of Science: The Case of Astrophotography
I explore the consequences of treating photographs as material objects, rather than as flat, glossy surfaces. Using the case of late nineteenth-century astrophotography and its practices, I hope to restyle how historians of science and art frame photography. When the objecthood and materiality of astrophotography are brought into greater focus, we begin to see the importance of things like their maintenance, preservation, and fragility, especially in the face of ever encroaching dangers like loss, breakage or even chemical or organic decomposition. From the perspective of handling, then, we can see that photography rarely presented things as given, but rather had to be processed in order to present objects of astronomical interest.
Kris Palmieri (University of Chicago)
Philology as a Way of Knowing, or, Why Bother With Philology?
Philology in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries has often been referred to as Queen of the Sciences. But how was this title earned and why? When was this title gained and, perhaps more importantly, why was it lost? This talk discusses the trajectory of philology as it rose to prominence, or not, and fell from prominence, or not. It argues that conventional accounts of philology’s development and subsequent fragmentation into the modern disciplines are misleading because philology was never so much a discipline as it was a common methodology and a shared set of interpretive tools.
This presentation begins with a brief discussion of what philology was and has been understood to be. It then provides an account of the changing function and status of philology in German speaking lands during the Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Centuries. It adopts a three pronged approach that traces the institutional status of philology as well as its function and the specifics of philological practice.
By being sensitive to the location of philology within the university as well as its function, this project charts its transformation as it ceased to be a Hilfsdisziplin and came to be re-articulated as an independent mode of knowledge production. This highlights the degree to which philology developed due to numerous processes that were neither mutually exclusive nor intentionally collaborative.
By attending to the specifics of philological practice, this talk also explores the ways in which the cultural and intellectual functions of philology were in flux. It thus highlights the variety of 18th century philological projects while also emphasizing their common practices.
Melissa Charenko (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Science as Prophecy: Paleo Perspectives on Environmental Change
Abstract: As ecology emerged as a scientific discipline in the early twentieth century, a number of influential ecologists argued that the basic function of science, and ecology in particular, was “to give perspective to the human adventure and from that perspective to provide direction for the long future.” This vision of ecology as a predictive science is at first surprising. Ecology is usually understood as a descriptive science, interested in characterizing change and uniformity, instability and equilibrium, as well as competition and cooperation in plant and animal communities. Yet, at its root, ecologists promoted ecology as prophecy.