Short Course Description
In our age, that of "the knowledge society", we tend to think of knowledge as being on the web, in a network, rather than merely in the minds of individuals. Yet even before the invention of internet, sociologists and historians used the metaphor of a network to describe the development of knowledge as a result of interactions and transmissions between agents such as institutions, human-beings, and even objects. This provides us with a history that is very different from a still popular conception of the history of knowledge, and specifically of scientific knowledge. It is not a story of individual geniuses such as Aristotle or Newton, but rather a history of knowledge as social. This course will be dedicated to the social factors in the history of knowledge. We will examine several stations in this history, moving from mathematical knowledge in Ancient Greece to the revolution in astronomical knowledge in the Renaissance, from medieval institutions of learning Islamic law to the Scholastics in European universities, from hospitals and prisons in 18th century France to Google today. Thus, the course reveals a history of communities of knowledge, of traditions and multiple revolutions, of habituating and disciplining agents of knowledge, and of the migration of knowledge between continents, cultures and disciplines. Tasks include 5 brief response assignments, a 2 page long midterm essay, and a final assignment.
Full syllabus will be available to registered students only