U.S. Intellectual History Blog

help in technolgy course

This spring I will be teaching a course called “Technology, Society and Values.” I’ve been told I can do whatever I want with it (it’s actually listed in the philosophy department), so I plan on treating it as a cultural and intellectual history of U.S. responses to technological developments. But the area is way out of my sphere of expertise. Does anyone out there have any ideas regarding primary texts or secondary texts–both for me and to assign in class–or even relating to assignments or lecture topics? If so, I would be very happy to hear them. Please respond on the blog or to me directly at [email protected]

Thanks very much in advance.


5 Thoughts on this Post

  1. Dear Mike:
    Off the top of my head, you might want to take a look at: John F. Kasson, Civilizing the Machine: Technology and Republican Values in America, 1776-1900; David Edwin Nye, American Technological Sublime; Langdon Winner, The Whale and the Reactor; Paul Boyer, By the Bomb’s Early Light; Paul Edwards, The Closed World: Computers and Politics of Discourse in Cold War America; and Venus Green, Race on the Line: Gender, Labor and Technology in the Bell System, 1880-1980.

    David Sehat

  2. Mike,

    As food for thought, you might want to look into some of the papers presented at the Newberry Library’s seminar series called “Technology, Politics, and Culture.” Some of those paper authors might hit on topics of interest to you.

    Labor and medical topics usually intersect nicely with those listed in your course title.

    In terms of historians, anything by Carroll Pursell or Ruth Schwartz Cowan might also work. Pursell, for instance, wrote a book titled The Machine in America: A Social History of Technology (1995, 2007). But those two historians are pretty well known in terms of inclusive, expansive looks at the effects of technology. With Cowan you’ll have the added benefit of incorporating women’s history and some feminism.

    – TL

  3. you might get the students to read Edward Bellamy’s ‘science fiction’ novel ‘looking backward’ (1887, i think, hugely popular at the time)—there’s nothing more revealing than outdated sci-fi.

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