Most courses are open to medical students. For more information, please get in touch with the individual faculty.
Problems in the History of Medicine and Public Health
HSHM 701 / AMST 878 / HIST 930
John Harley Warner
An examination of the variety of approaches to the social, cultural, and intellectual history of medicine, focusing on the United States. Reading and discussion of the recent scholarly literature on medical cultures, public health, and illness experiences from the early national period through the present. Topics include the role of gender, class, ethnicity, race, religion, and region in the experience of health care and sickness and in the construction of medical knowledge; the interplay between lay and professional understandings of the body; the role of the marketplace in shaping professional identities and patient expectations; citizenship, nationalism, and imperialism; and the visual cultures of medicine.
Problems in the History of Science
HSHM 702 / HIST 931
Close study of recent secondary literature in the history of science, broadly construed. An inclusive overview of the emergence and diversity of scientific ways of knowing, major scientific theories and methods, and the role of science in politics, capitalism, war, and everyday life. Discussions focus on historians’ different analytic and interpretive approaches.
Problems in Science StudiesHSHM 710 / HIST 921
Exploration of the methods and debates in the social studies of science, technology, and medicine. This course covers the history of the field and its current intellectual, social, and political positioning. It emphasizes the debates on constructivism and relativism and provides critical tools to address the relationships among science, technology, medicine, and society.
Photography and the Sciences
HSHM 656 / HIST 949
Does photography belong in the history of art, or does its status as an “automatic” or “scientific” recording technique and its many uses in the sciences distinguish its history from that of earlier visual media? How does photography look when we approach it from the cultural history of science? How might role in the sciences have shaped photographic aesthetics in the arts? This course will examine the making of photography’s discursive identity as an experimental and evidentiary medium in the sciences, from its announcement to the public in 1839 to the digital innovations of the present day. We take a historical and archival perspective on uses for (and debates over) photography in different fields of the natural and human sciences, grounded in visits to photographic collections at Yale.
Death, Degeneration, and Decay
HSHM 711 / HIST 927
Not offered 2019-2020
This reading seminar addresses questions of finitude, breakdown, loss, and the limits of life as they have been articulated from the mid-twentieth century to the present. Specific topics encompass biomedical interest in cell death, ecological attention to ecosystem collapse, and racial theories of degeneration. Because theories of cybernetics and computing are a fundamental dimension of postwar life and biomedical science, we also consider how ideas about life and death have been addressed in the engineering and maintenance of digital infrastructures.
Natural History in History
HSHM 719 / HIST 917
The changing meaning and practice of natural history, from antiquity to the present. Topics include: technologies and epistemologies of representation, the commodification of natural specimens and bioprospecting, politics of collecting and display, colonial science and indigenous knowledge, and the emergence of ethnography and anthropology. Students work on primary sources in Yale collections.
Geography and History
HSHM 713 / HIST 913
A research seminar focused on methodological questions of geography and geographic analysis in historical scholarship. We consider approaches ranging from the Annales School of the early twentieth century to contemporary research in environmental history, history of science, urban history, and more. We also explore interdisciplinary work in social theory, historical geography, and anthropology and grapple with the promise (and drawbacks) of GIS. Students may write their research papers on any time period or geographic region, and no previous experience with geography or GIS is necessary. Undergraduates are admitted with permission of the instructor.
Early Modern Science and Medicine
HSHM 716 / HIST 936
Not offered 2019-2020
The course focuses on recent works in the history of science and medicine in the early modern world. We discuss how interdisciplinary approaches–including economic and urban history, sociology and anthropology of science, gender studies, art and colonial history–have challenged the classic historiographical category of “the Scientific Revolution.” We also discuss the avenues for research that new approaches to early modern science and medicine have opened up, placing special emphasis on the circulation of knowledge, practices of collecting, and visual and material culture.
Health Politics, Body Politics
HSHM 736 / HIST 943 / WGSS 736
A reading seminar on struggles to control, pathologize, and normalize human bodies, with a particular focus on science, medicine, and the state, both in North America and in a broader global health context. Topics include disease, race and politics; repression and regulation of birth control; the politics of adoption; domestic and global population control; feminist health movements; and the pathologizing and identity politics of disabled people.
Approaches to the History of Technology
HSHM 750 / HIST 939
Not offered 2019-2020
An introduction to the history of technology, with a focus on classic and recent works in the field. Students discuss theoretical problems and case studies from the Middle Ages to the present. Topics include technological determinism, technology transfer, the Industrial Revolution, the social construction of technology, thing theory, the human-machine relationship.
Historical Perspectives on Science and Religion
HSHM 415 / HIST 179J
Ivano Dal Prete
The engagement between science and religion from a historical standpoint and a multicultural perspective. The Islamic, Jewish, Buddhist, and Christian traditions; the roots of modern creationism; salvation expectations and the rise of modern science and technology. General knowledge of western and world history is expected.
History of Health Activism
HSHM 745 / HIST 910 / WGSS 733
not offered 2019–2020
This research seminar introduces students to current historical debates around health activism. Topics include progressive and conservative ideologies; debates around welfare and entitlements; gender and reproductive rights; medical professionalism; and health activism as a social movement. Research is focused on holdings in Yale libraries.
Readings in Environmental History
HSHM 744 / AMST 839 / F&ES 843/HIST 743
not offered 2019-2020
Readings and discussion of key works in environmental history. The course explores major forces shaping human-environment relationships, such as markets, politics, and ecological dynamics, and compares different approaches to writing about social and environmental change.
Medicine and Empire
HSHM 761 / AFAM 752 / HIST 937
A reading course that explores medicine in the context of early modern empires with a focus on Africa, India, and the Americas. Topics include race, gender, and the body; medicine and the environment; itineraries of scientific knowledge; enslaved, indigenous, and creole medical and botanical knowledge and practice; colonial contests over medical authority and power; indigenous and enslaved epistemologies of the natural world; medicine and religion.
Disability Histories: Research Seminar
HSHM 770/HIST 940/WGSS 782
not offered 2019-2020
This course introduces students to the major issues in current disability history as well as theoretical debates in disability studies. We discuss cultural, social, and political meanings of citizenship; efforts to define and classify disabled bodies; contested notions of bodily difference; and the ways disability has and continues to be used as a metaphor for socially defined inferiority like gender, race, or sexuality. By the fourth week students have identified the topic for their research papers and discussed them in class. The next month is devoted to research and writing. We start meeting again after spring break to read and discuss a draft of each paper.