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Below is a selection of program courses. Most courses are open to medical students. For more information, please get in touch with the individual faculty. Visit Yale Course Search for information on courses offered in the current academic year.

Graduate Seminars

Problems in the History of Medicine and Public Health
HSHM 701/HIST 930
John Harley Warner

An examination of the variety of approaches to the social and cultural history of medicine and public health. Readings are drawn from recent literature in the field, sampling writings on health care, illness experiences, and medical cultures in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the United States from antiquity through the twentieth century. Topics include the role of gender, class, ethnicity, race, religion, and region in the experience of health care and sickness; the intersection of lay and professional understandings of the body; and the role of the marketplace in shaping professional identities and patient expectations.

Problems in the History of Science
HSHM 702/HIST 931
Deborah Coen

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 Studies
HSHM 710/HIST 921
Joanna Radin

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.

Death, Degeneration, & Decay
HSHM 711/HIST 927
Joanna Radin

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.

Photography and the Sciences
HSHM 656/HIST 949
Chitra Ramalingam

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.

Natural History in History
HSHM 719/HIST 917
Paola Bertucci

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
William Rankin

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.

Early Modern Science and Medicine
HSHM 716/HIST 936
Paola Bertucci

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
Naomi Rogers

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.

History of Health Activism
HSHM 745/HIST 910/WGSS 733
Naomi Rogers

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.

Visual and Material Cultures of Science

HSHM 749/HIST 925
Paola Bertucci

The seminar discusses recent works that address the visual and material cultures of science. Visits to Yale collections, with a particular emphasis on the History of Science and Technology Division of the Peabody Museum. Students may take the course as a reading or research seminar.

Approaches to the History of Technology
HSHM 750/HIST 939
Paola Bertucci

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.

Epidemics and the Early Modern Body
HSHM 768/HIST 924
Paola Bertucci

Epidemics in the history of the early modern world. Focusing on individual epidemics that contributed to shaping the early modern world, students discuss conceptions of the body and racist stereotyping, spaces and strategies of containment, visual and material culture of disease and treatment, and the relationship between public health and the early modern state.

Disability Histories: Research Seminar
HSHM 770/HIST 940/WGSS 782
Naomi Rogers

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 then start meeting again to read and discuss a draft of each paper.