Making Marie Curie: An Interview

When we study the history of a famous scientific figure – especially one that has gone on to become a cultural icon – we are dealing not just with a person, but also with an identity or series of identities that have been constructed over time. Eva Hemmungs Wirtén’s new book looks carefully at the work that has gone into the making of Marie Curie (1867-1934) … Continue reading Making Marie Curie: An Interview

Forensic Media: An Interview

Greg Siegel’s new book is a wonderfully engaging and meticulously researched account of a dual tendency in modern technological life: treating forensic knowledge of accident causation as a key to solving the accident, and treating this knowledge as the source for the future improvement of both technology and civilization. Forensic Media: Reconstructing Accidents in Accelerated Modernity (Duke University Press, 2014) argues that accidents, forensics, and media have been … Continue reading Forensic Media: An Interview

Stations in the Field: An Interview

While museums, labs, and botanical gardens have been widely studied by historians of science, field stations have received comparatively little attention. Raf De Bont’s new book rectifies this oversight, turning our attention to the importance of biological field stations in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in generating new scientific practices, theories, and networks. Stations in the Field: A History of Place-Based Animal Research, … Continue reading Stations in the Field: An Interview

Faxed: An Interview

Jonathan Coopersmith’s new book takes readers through the century-and-a-half-long history of the fax machine and the technologies that shaped and were shaped by it, from Alexander Bain’s 1843 patent to the computer-based faxing of the end of the 20th century. Faxed: The Rise and Fall of the Fax Machine (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015) chronicles the transformations of fax wrought by a range of industries and technologies in … Continue reading Faxed: An Interview

Learned Patriots: An Interview

What were Ottomans talking about when they talked about science? In posing and answering that question (spoiler: they were talking about people), M. Alper Yalcinkaya’s new book Learned Patriots: Debating Science, State, and Society in the 19th-Century Ottoman Empire (University of Chicago Press, 2015) introduces the history of science as discussed and debated by nineteenth-century Turkish-speaking Muslim Ottomans in Istanbul. The book compellingly argues that these discussions and debates were … Continue reading Learned Patriots: An Interview

Visions of Science: An Interview

Jim Secord’s new book is both deeply enlightening and a pleasure to read. Visions of Science: Books and Readers at the Dawn of the Victorian Age (University of Chicago Press, 2014) is a fascinating exploration of books and their readers during a moment of intense transformation in British society. Secord brings us into a period of the nineteenth century when transformations in publishing and an expanded reading … Continue reading Visions of Science: An Interview

Banking on the Body: An Interview

How did we come to think of spaces for the storage and circulation of body parts as “banks,” and what are the consequences of that history for the way we think about human bodies as property today? Kara W. Swanson’s wonderful new book traces the history of body banks in America from the nineteenth century to today, focusing especially on milk, blood, and sperm. We had … Continue reading Banking on the Body: An Interview

Bad Water: An Interview

Robert Stoltz’s fascinating book Bad Water explores the emergence of an environmental turn in modern Japan, guiding readers through the unfolding of successive eco-historical periods in Japan while charting the transformations of an “environmental unconscious” lying at the foundation of modern social and political thought. Robert and I had a chance to talk about it for the New Books in East Asian Studies podcast, and you can listen to our conversation here. Continue reading Bad Water: An Interview

Huxley’s Church and Maxwell’s Demon: An Interview

Matthew Stanley’s wonderful new book introduces James Clerk Maxwell (1831-79) and T.H. Huxley (1825-95) as they embodied theistic and naturalistic science, respectively, in Victorian Britain. Moving well beyond the widespread assumption that modern science and religion are and always have been fundamentally antithetical to one another, Huxley’s Church and Maxwell’s Demon offers a history of scientific naturalism that illustrates the deep and fundamental commonalities between positions on the proper practice … Continue reading Huxley’s Church and Maxwell’s Demon: An Interview

Dealing with Darwin: An Interview

David Livingstone’s new book traces the processes by which communities of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that shared the same Scottish Calvinist heritage engaged with Darwin and Darwinians in different local contexts. This wonderful book locates evolutionary debates in particular sites and situations as a way of understanding the history of science in terms of “geographies of reading” and “speech spaces,” and you can listen to our … Continue reading Dealing with Darwin: An Interview