The Science of Sex and Race: Theories of Biological Differentiation, 1776 to the Present
HPSC-X 108 ~ MW 10:20 – 11:10 AM ~ Prof. Sander Gilboff ~ CASE DUS credit
This course surveys the history of diversity in the U.S. from the point of view of history of science, asking how biologists (also biological anthropologists and medical authorities) understood and debated the differences between the sexes and the races, from the late eighteenth century to the present. A central question in many of these debates was how (or whether) unity could be found amid the diversity: Was there a common origin in heredity, embryology, or evolution, from which all humans diverged in varying degrees? And if so, what caused the divergence – environment, culture, nutrition, disease, natural selection? OR contrarily, were the sexes and races fixed and incommensurable categories?
As we look at the historical ideas and debates, we will consider the interplay between science and culture, in other words, how scientific theorizing often reflects cultural assumptions about sex and race but can also influence and change them. Attention will be given to minority, feminist, and other dissenting viewpoints in addition to the better-known theoreticians. Comparisons of historical cases to present-day problems will also be drawn.
The Senses: Body, Brain, Environment
HPSC-X 245 ~ MW 1:15 – 2:30 PM ~ Prof. Ann-Sophie Barwich
Examines how our senses afford interactions with the environment and create images in our minds. Covers the scientific and cultural history of research on the senses. Engages with the philosophical and empirical questions that arise from a broader perspective on perception.