History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health (HSHM)

HSHM 201a / EVST 206a / HIST 127a / HUMS 106a / PHYS 106a, Sustainable Energy: Physics and HistoryStaff

Students explore the physical logic of energy and power in parallel with the histories of technology for energy exploitation and economic theories of sustainability on the path to modernity. They learn the fundamentals of quantitative analysis of contemporary and historical energy harvesting, its carbon intensity, and climate impact. They also gain an understanding of the historical underpinnings of the current global energy status quo and its relationship to economic theories of sustainability.  Mathematical proficiency with algebra is assumed. Students from all academic interests and experiences are welcome in the course.  QR, SC, SO0 Course cr

HSHM 204b / AMST 163b / EVST 120b / HIST 120b, American Environmental HistoryPaul Sabin

Ways in which people have shaped and been shaped by the changing environments of North America from precolonial times to the present. Migration of species and trade in commodities; the impact of technology, agriculture, and industry; the development of resources in the American West and overseas; the rise of modern conservation and environmental movements; the role of planning and impact of public policies.  WR, HU
MW 11:35am-12:25pm

HSHM 206b, Body Politics: Histories of American Reproductive Rights, Health, and Activism from 1800Megann Licskai

Are all politics reproductive politics? This course traces the reproductive history of the United States from the early nineteenth century to the present day. Questions about reproduction–and about not reproducing–are deeply tied to questions of gendered and racial rights; of bodily autonomy; of American expansion and empire; and of who counts as a citizen, or even as a human being. In the past few years, we’ve encountered new stories about everything from new and restrictive abortion laws, to immigrant woman who were sterilized without their consent, to new technologies in male birth control, to the inequitable childcare burden that falls to women during times of hardship, to the racist roots of foster care and residential school systems. In this course, we come to understand the historical changes in American reproduction to better understand the complicated roots of our current moment. By analyzing articles in newspapers and scientific journals, advertisements, film, patient and physician narratives, and exhibitions and material culture, students will understand reproduction as a site for empowerment and activism, as a site of medical professionalization, and as a site of health disparity. We examine reproduction capaciously, including pregnancy and childbirth, birth control and abortion, assistive reproductive technologies, and adoption and foster care. Our analysis is intersectional, and we consider what different identities meant for reproduction historically, as well as in our current moment.  HU0 Course cr
MW 11:35am-12:25pm

HSHM 209b / EVST 209b / HIST 465b, Making Climate KnowledgeDeborah Coen

This is a course about how humans have come to know what we know about our impacts on the earth’s climate and our vulnerability to climate change. When did humans first know that their actions, in the aggregate, could transform the planet? Did scientists bear responsibility to warn of these consequences? In what ways has the modern science of climate both appropriated and undermined traditional and indigenous forms of climate knowledge? Students learn to work with the methods of history of science: we analyze science as a social and material process bound to the cultural and epistemological particularities of its historical context, and we examine the political dimensions of historical narratives about the emergence of the theory of global warming. Via hands-on experience with Yale’s historical collections, students learn to analyze maps, artifacts, and instruments as historical sources. They also gain familiarity with the methods of environmental history, learning to attend to historical evidence of shifting relationships between humans and non-humans. Finally, students become more attuned to the evidence of climate change around them and more confident in their ability to make climate knowledge for themselves.  HU
MW 1:30pm-2:20pm

HSHM 215b / HIST 140b, Public Health in America, 1793 to the PresentNaomi Rogers

A survey of public health in the United States from the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 to AIDS, breast cancer activism, bioterrorism and COVID. Focusing on medicine and the state, topics include epidemics and quarantines, struggles for reproductive and environmental justice, the experiences of healers and patients, and organized medicine and its critics.  HU0 Course cr
TTh 10:30am-11:20am

HSHM 220b, Histories of Confinement: From Atlantic Slavery to Social DistancingNana Osei Quarshie

This course looks closely at the history of asylums, hospitals, prisons, and schools. It seeks to understand their workings and the interplay between bureaucratic forms, spatial and material organization, and modes of discipline, control, and remediation. It asks, how is institutional power organized, displayed, deployed, and disputed, and what are the limits and contradictions inherent in these efforts? Our readings draw from a range of contexts and disciplines to consider the relationship between the built environment and institutional life.  HU0 Course cr
MW 2:30pm-3:20pm

HSHM 226a / HIST 236a, The Global Scientific RevolutionStaff

The material, political, cultural, and social transformations that underpinned the rise of modern science between the 14th and 18th century, considered in global context. Topics include artisanal practices and the empirical exploration of nature; global networks of knowledge and trade, and colonial science; figurative arts and the emersion of a visual language of anatomy, astronomy, and natural history.   HU0 Course cr

HSHM 237b / HSAR 282b / WGSS 282b, Renaissance Bodies: Art, Magic, ScienceMarisa Bass

An introduction to issues surrounding the representation of the body in both art and science, spanning from the late Middle Ages to the seventeenth century, and with a particular focus on the Northern Renaissance. Topics include medicine, reproduction, witchcraft, the gender spectrum, torture, race, disability, desire, dreams, and theories of imagination and invention. Sections and assignments will make ample use of the Yale collections. Previous experience with art history welcome but not required.  HU
TTh 11:35am-12:25pm

HSHM 321a / HIST 244a, Cultures of Western MedicineStaff

A survey of Western medicine and its global encounters, encompassing medical theory, practice, institutions, and healers from antiquity to the present.  Changing concepts of health, disease, and the body in Europe and America explored in their social, cultural, economic, scientific, technological, and ethical contexts.  HU0 Course cr

* HSHM 406a / HIST 150Ja, Healthcare for the Urban UnderservedSakena Abedin

Exploration of the institutions, movements, and policies that have attempted to provide healthcare for the urban underserved in America from the late nineteenth century to the present, with emphasis on the ideas (about health, cities, neighborhoods, poverty, race, gender, difference, etc) that shaped them. Topics include hospitals, health centers, public health programs, the medical civil rights movement, the women’s health movement, and national healthcare policies such as Medicare and Medicaid.   WR, HU
F 9:25am-11:15am

* HSHM 413a / AFST 465a / ANTH 468a / URBN 400a / URBN 442a, Infrastructures of Empire: Control and (In)security in the Global SouthLeslie Gross-Wyrtzen

This advanced seminar examines the role that infrastructure plays in producing uneven geographies of power historically and in the “colonial present” (Gregory 2006). After defining terms and exploring the ways that infrastructure has been conceptualized and studied, we analyze how different types of infrastructure (energy, roads, people, and so on) constitute the material and social world of empire. At the same time, infrastructure is not an uncontested arena: it often serves as a key site of political struggle or even enters the fray as an unruly actor itself, thus conditioning possibilities for anti-imperial and decolonial practice. The geographic focus of this course is the African continent, but we explore comparative cases in other regions of the majority and minority world.  SO
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HSHM 416a / HIST 121Ja, Beyond Tuskegee: Histories of Race and Human Subjects ResearchStaff

This course explores the history of race, racism, and human subjects research. It examines the history of human subjects research as a scientific practice and how practitioners interpreted the use of living and dead bodies for producing scientific knowledge. It examines how and why certain bodies become eligible for research and experimentation. This course shows how race, class, gender, and disability shape the history of human subjects research, and shows how human subjects were also deliberately selected from vulnerable populations. It focuses on the experiences of African Americans as research subjects, and consider other vulnerable populations such as children, the disabled, and the incarcerated.  WR, HU
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HSHM 418b / HIST 444Jb / WGSS 435b, Queer ScienceJoanna Radin and Juno Richards

Why are there so many studies involving trans brain scans? Can facial recognition technology really tell if you’re queer? Why is everyone so obsessed with gay penguins? For that matter, how did science come to be the right tool for defining and knowing sex, gender, and sexuality at all? How does that history influence our collective lives in the present, and what are some alternatives? This course gives students a background in the development of sex science, from evolutionary arguments that racialized sexual dimorphism to the contemporary technologies that claim to be able to get at bodily truths that are supposedly more real than identity. It introduces scholarly and political interventions that have attempted to short-circuit the idea that sex is stable and knowable by science, highlighting ways that queer and queering thinkers have challenged the stability of sexual categories. It concludes by asking how to put those interventions into practice when so much of the fight for queer rights, autonomy, and survival has been rooted in categorical recognition by the state, and by considering whether science can be made queer.  HU
W 9:25am-11:15am

* HSHM 420a, Senior Project WorkshopMegann Licskai

A research workshop for seniors in the HSHM major, intended to move students toward the successful completion of their senior projects and to provide a community for support and for facilitated peer review. Meets periodically throughout the semester for students to discuss stages of the research process, discuss common challenges and practical strategies for addressing them, and to collaboratively support each others' work. The workshop events are structured around the schedule for the fall-to-spring two-term senior project, but students writing one-term projects or spring-to-fall projects also benefit from them, and there will be at least one peer review session to support their key deadlines each semester too. Students must be seniors in the HSHM major and must be signed up for HSHM 490, 491, or 492 to take this course.  ½ Course cr
W 3:30pm-5:20pm

* HSHM 422a / HIST 467Ja, Cartography, Territory, and IdentityBill Rankin

Exploration of how maps shape assumptions about territory, land, sovereignty, and identity. The relationship between scientific cartography and conquest, the geography of statecraft, religious cartographies, encounters between Western and non-Western cultures, and reactions to cartographic objectivity. Students make their own maps. No previous experience in cartography or graphic design required.  WR, HU
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HSHM 425b / HIST 417Jb, Science Fiction and Prediction: Histories of Utopia, Apocalypse, and the FutureElizabeth O'Neil

Climate catastrophe. AI Singularity. Viral mutation. Mars colonization. Everywhere you look today, scientists, journalists, and regular social media users are making predictions about the future. Throughout this course, we take a historical approach to how scientists and science fiction writers have tried to predict the future – or bring about a better one – using the rhetoric and cultural authority of science. Embracing the fuzzy boundaries of between science fiction and science prediction, we survey a variety of speculative utopian plans, dystopian nightmares, and apocalyptic visions of the future, along with secondary literature from historians and scholars of literature. How and why have scientists and scientific ideas been imagined as resources for solving social problems? How can we use predictions about the future to understand the past? This seminar appeals to students interested in the history of science and medicine, literature, politics, technology, and environmental studies.  WR, HU
T 9:25am-11:15am

* HSHM 429a / HIST 490Ja, Decolonizing the MindNana Osei Quarshie

This seminar explores the effects of colonialism and post-colonial power relations on the production of scientific, medical, and embodied knowledge about psychiatry. First, we read debates over the geographies of power and distrust in medicine. How have colonialism and post-colonial power relations defined the tasks of non-European psychiatry? What does it mean to decolonize psychiatric practice or culture? Second, we examine the nature of rationality. Is reason singular, plural, or culturally bound or universal? To what extent is spirit possession a rational experience? Third, we explore the relationship between scientific representations, social practices, and local culture. What relationship exists between social practices and culturally shared categories of knowledge? Is psychiatry universalizable? Students learn to analyze and debate these questions by drawing on films, letters, photography, and monographs produced in and about Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, China, Cuba, Indonesia, and Vietnam.   WR, HU, SO
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HSHM 432a / ER&M 360a / HLTH 370a / SOCY 390a / WGSS 390a, Politics of ReproductionRene Almeling

Reproduction as a process that is simultaneously biological and social, involving male and female bodies, family formation, and powerful social institutions such as medicine, law, and the marketplace. Sociological research on reproductive topics such as pregnancy, birth, abortion, contraception, infertility, reproductive technology, and aging. Core sociological concepts used to examine how the politics of reproduction are shaped by the intersecting inequalities of gender, race, class, and sexuality.  WR, SO
T 3:30pm-5:20pm

* HSHM 445a / HIST 139Ja, Fetal Histories: Pregnancy, Life, and Personhood in the American Cultural ImaginationMegann Licskai

In our twenty-first-century historical moment, the fetus is a powerful political and cultural symbol. One’s fetal politics likely predicts a lot about how they live their life, vote, worship, and even about how they understand themselves. How, then, has the fetus come to carry the cultural significance that it does? Are there other ways one might think of the fetus? And what is happening in the background when we center the fetus up front? This course examines the many cultural meanings of the fetus in American life: from a clump of cells, to a beloved family member, to political litmus test, and considers the way that these different meanings are connected to questions of human and civil rights, gender relations, bodily autonomy, and political life. We look at the history of our very idea of the fetus and consider how we got here. Each of us may have a different idea of what the fetus is, but every one of those ideas has a particular history. We work to understand those histories, their contexts, and their possible implications for the future of American political life.  WR, HU
T 3:30pm-5:20pm

* HSHM 449b / EVST 349b / HIST 449Jb / HUMS 446b / URBN 382b, Critical Data Visualization: History, Theory, and PracticeBill Rankin

Critical analysis of the creation, use, and cultural meanings of data visualization, with emphasis on both the theory and the politics of visual communication. Seminar discussions include close readings of historical data graphics since the late eighteenth century and conceptual engagement with graphic semiology, ideals of objectivity and honesty, and recent approaches of feminist and participatory data design. Course assignments focus on the research, production, and workshopping of students’ own data graphics; topics include both historical and contemporary material. No prior software experience is required; tutorials are integrated into weekly meetings. Basic proficiency in standard graphics software is expected by the end of the term, with optional support for more advanced programming and mapping software.  HU
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HSHM 451a / HUMS 108a / RLST 108a, Introduction to the Occult SciencesTravis Zadeh

This course provides a comparative history of the occult sciences from antiquity to the present. From Galen’s occult properties to Newton’s pursuit of alchemy, the notion that there are hidden forces in nature has played an immeasurable role in the development of religious thought, scientific reasoning, and literary endeavor. The modern impulse to separate religion from science and science from magic can obscure the centrality of an array of practices and beliefs across time and place. Far from a disenchanted present, magic and the occult are woven through the fabric of modernity. From healing crystals to the personalized astrology of Co-Star, tarot cards to New-Age inflected conspiracy theories, fortune tellers to countless films, we are surrounded by appeals to occult powers. Building on case studies from classical antiquity and Jewish, Christian, and Islamic letters, this course traces the development of the occult sciences through an array of historical periods, social contexts, and discursive materials. Topics include: origins of writing, astrology, alchemy, medicine, natural philosophy, divination, automata, talismans, natural magic, letterism, hermeticism, kabbalah, Neoplatonism, recipes for summoning demons and angels, persecution, orientalism, colonialism, mesmerism, spiritualism, disenchantment, modernity, capitalism, consumption, and fantasy. Materials are drawn from an array of sources, including: philosophical dialogues, scientific manuals, illuminated manuscripts, encyclopedias, cosmographies, handbooks of practical magic, collections of stories, and movies. In addition to a panoply of primary sources and contemporary scholarship on theory and method, students are introduced to a variety of archival materials in the Yale collections.  HU
TTh 10:30am-11:20am

* HSHM 464a / HUMS 382a, Nature and Human NatureGary Tomlinson

This course explores the Western conception of the human place in the natural world as it has shifted across four centuries. It features, alongside corollary readings, close study of three classic texts: Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632), Giambattista Vico's New Science (1744), and Darwin's Origin of Species (1859)―fundamental texts locating humans in the cosmos, in society, and in natural history, respectively. It finishes with a new work, Terrence Deacon's Incomplete Nature (2011), an attempt to explain the emergence of mind from the natural world.  No prerequisites, though the challenging nature of the materials suggests that this course will be aimed mainly at students beyond their first year.  HU
W 3:30pm-5:20pm

* HSHM 467b / HIST 447Jb / WGSS 465b, History of the BodyZiv Eisenberg

What does it mean to have a “bad hair day?” How should you care for your skin? What happens when you eat a burger and drink wine? How are babies made? What happens when you die? The answers depend not only on who provides them, but also on where and when. This seminar examines historical production of systems of corporeal knowledge and power, as well as the norms, practices, meanings, and power structures they have created, displaced, and maintained. Structured thematically, the course familiarizes students with major topics in the history of the body, health, and medicine, with a particular focus on US history.  WR, HU
W 3:30pm-5:20pm

* HSHM 468a / HIST 260Ja, Sex, Life, and GenerationIvano Dal Prete

Theories and practices of life, sex, and generation in Western civilization. Politics and policies of conception and birth; social control of abortion and infanticide in premodern societies; theories of life and gender; the changing status of the embryo; the lure of artificial life.  WR, HU
Th 9:25am-11:15am

* HSHM 469b / AMST 467b / MCDB 469b, Biology of Humans through History, Science, and SocietyValerie Horsley

This course is a collaborative course between HSHM and MCDB that brings together humanists and scientists to explore questions of biology, history, and identity. The seminar is intended for STEM and humanities majors interested in understanding the history of science and how it impacts identity, particularly race and gender, in the United States. The course explores how scientific methods and research questions have impacted views of race, sex, gender, gender identity, heterosexism, and obesity. Students learn and evaluate scientific principles and concepts related to biological theories of human difference. There are no prerequisites, this class is open to all.  WR, HU, SC
MW 1pm-2:15pm

HSHM 470a or b, Directed ReadingIvano Dal Prete

Readings directed by members of the faculty on topics in the history of science, medicine, or public health not covered by regular course offerings. Subjects depend on the interests of students and faculty. Weekly conferences; required papers.

* HSHM 473b / HIST 403Jb, Vaccination in Historical PerspectiveJason Schwartz

For over two centuries, vaccination has been a prominent, effective, and at times controversial component of public health activities in the United States and around the world. Despite the novelty of many aspects of contemporary vaccines and vaccination programs, they reflect a rich and often contested history that combines questions of science, medicine, public health, global health, economics, law, and ethics, among other topics. This course examines the history of vaccines and vaccination programs, with a particular focus on the 20th and 21st centuries and on the historical roots of contemporary issues in U.S. and global vaccination policy. Students gain a thorough, historically grounded understanding of the scope and design of vaccination efforts, past and present, and the interconnected social, cultural, and political issues that vaccination has raised throughout its history and continues to raise today.  HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HSHM 490a or b and HSHM 491a or b, Yearlong Senior ProjectMegann Licskai

Preparation of a yearlong senior project under the supervision of a member of the faculty. There will be a mandatory meeting at the beginning of the term for students who have chosen the yearlong senior project; students will be notified of the time and location by e-mail before classes begin. Majors planning to begin their projects who do not receive this notice should contact the senior project director. Students expecting to graduate in May enroll in HSHM 490 during the fall term and complete their projects in HSHM 491 in the spring term. December graduates enroll in HSHM 490 in the spring term and complete their projects in HSHM 491 during the following fall term. Majors planning to begin their projects in the spring term should notify the senior project director by the last day of classes in the fall term. Students must meet progress requirements by specific deadlines throughout the first term to receive a temporary grade of SAT for HSHM 490, which will be changed to the grade received by the project upon the project's completion. Failure to meet any requirement may result in the student's being asked to withdraw from HSHM 490. For details about project requirements and deadlines, consult the HSHM Senior Project Handbook. Students enrolled in HSHM 491 must submit a completed project to the HSHM Registrar no later than 5 p.m. on the due date as listed in the HSHM Senior Project Handbook. Projects submitted after 5 p.m. on the due date without an excuse from the student's residential college dean will be subject to grade penalties. Credit for HSHM 490 only on completion of HSHM 491.

* HSHM 492a, One-Term Senior ProjectMegann Licskai

Preparation of a one-term senior project under the supervision of an HSHM faculty member, or of an affiliated faculty member with approval of the director of undergraduate studies. There will be a mandatory meeting at the beginning of the term for students who have chosen the one-term senior project; students will be notified of the time and location by e-mail before classes begin. Majors planning to begin their projects who do not receive this notice should contact the senior project director. Students expecting to graduate in May enroll in HSHM 492 during the fall term. December graduates enroll in HSHM 492 in the preceding spring term. Students planning to begin their project in the spring should notify the senior project director by the last day of classes in the fall term. Majors must submit a completed Statement of Intention form signed by the faculty member who has agreed to supervise the project to the HSHM administrator on the due date. Blank statement forms are available in the HSHM Senior Project Handbook on the HSHM website. Students enrolled in HSHM 492 must submit a completed senior project to the HSHM administrator as listed in the HSHM Senior Project Handbook no later than 5 p.m. on the due date in the fall term, or no later than 5 p.m. on the due date in the spring term. Projects submitted after 5 p.m. on the due date without an excuse from the student's residential college dean will be subject to grade penalties.

* HSHM 496a / HIST 110Ja, Childbirth in America, 1650-2000Rebecca Tannenbaum

This course considers the ways childbirth has been conducted in the United states over three centuries.  Topics include the connections between childbirth and historical constructions of gender, race, and motherhood, as well as changes in the medical understanding and management of childbirth.  WR, HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HSHM 498a / HIST 142Ja, Collecting Bodies: Historical Approaches to Specimen CollectionMegann Licskai

Why is there a room full of brains in the basement of Yale’s medical school, and why does it welcome hundreds of visitors every year? What compels us about the macabre spectacle of human remains, and what is their place in medical history? What kinds of stories can and should a museum space tell, and what are the multivalent functions of a collection like this in a university setting? Using Yale’s Cushing Center as a center of discussion, this class examines the ethics of collecting and viewing human specimens. The course ties these practices to histories of colonialism, racism, medicine, anthropology, and natural history while considering the cultural specificity of the collectors and the collected. Students analyze the kinds of stories that museum spaces can tell and imagine possibilities for ethical storytelling through both academic analysis and creative engagement. In doing so, we prioritize hands-on historical work while reading theory to address broader ethical and epistemological questions. This course will, on occasion, meet at 333 Cedar St. to facilitate this hands-on work.  WR, HU
Th 3:30pm-5:20pm