“On the Frontier of the Empire of Chance”

Arwen Mohun, “On the Frontier of The Empire of Chance: Statistics, Accidents, and Risk in Industrializing America.” Science in Context 3 (2005): 337-357. In “On the Frontier of The Empire of Chance,” author Arwen Mohun examines the rise in statistics and probabilistic thinking in the American vernacular context from the late nineteenth through the early … More “On the Frontier of the Empire of Chance”

The Empire of Chance

The Empire of Chance: How Probability Changed Science and Everyday Life, Gerd Gigerenzer, Zeno Swijtink, Theodore Porter, Lorrain Daston, John Beatty, and Lorenz Krüger             In their collaborative work, authors Gerd Gigerenzer, Zeno Swijtink, Theodore Porter, Lorrain Daston, John Beatty, and Lorenz Krüger attempt a cohesive study of how the science of statistics “transformed our … More The Empire of Chance

Disease as Framework

Medical historians, medical anthropologists, and other scholars concerned with a plethora of topics have written works centered around specific diseases; what comprises their arguments, evidence, and conclusions, however, varies greatly and begs the question, what exactly is the history of a disease, and how have scholars employed disease as a schema through which they analyze … More Disease as Framework

Nuclear Energy

Being Nuclear: Africans and the Global Uranium Trade, Gabrielle Hecht             Gabrielle Hecht’s unconventional approach to a history of the global uranium trade — centered around a traditionally forgotten player, Africa — offers new insight into the effects of the post-World War II technopolitical atmosphere. Hecht introduces the term “nuclearity” to describe the degree of association … More Nuclear Energy

Routes of Power

Routes of Power: Energy and Modern America, Christopher F. Jones             In his study of shifting power regimes in industrializing America, Christopher Jones emphasizes the importance of transportation networks in the formation of an “energy-intensive world.” Jones covers the time period from 1820, when citizens garnered their energy in an organic way (using primarily plants, falling … More Routes of Power

Vernacular Knowledge

The Crafting of the 10,000 Things: Knowledge and Technology in Seventeenth-Century China, Dagmar Schäfer             In her analyses of the writings of Song Yingxing (1587-1666?), author Dagmar Schäfer elucidates the intricate and complex systems of knowing in seventeenth-century China. Song was part of a society in which individuals were divided into four major classes: scholars, farmers, … More Vernacular Knowledge

Visualization

Visible Empire: Botanical Expeditions & Visual Culture in the Hispanic Enlightenment, Daniela Bleichmar             Author Daniela Bleichmar bases her study of Hispanic botanical expeditions around the images created during them in order to analyze the place of illustration in the Enlightenment natural philosophical era. Through these images, Bleichmar elucidates the motivations behind their production (to exploit … More Visualization

Dangerous Pregnancies

Dangerous Pregnancies: Mothers, Disabilities, and Abortion in Modern America, Leslie J. Reagan                         Adding to the literature on epidemics and their propensity to highlight, challenge, and even change cultural belief, Leslie Reagan’s work on the rubella virus tells the story of the disease’s discovery, society’s reaction to it, the media’s interpretation of it, and its … More Dangerous Pregnancies

Technology and Gender

Technology and Gender: Fabrics of Power in Late Imperial China, Francesca Bray             Making use of a broad definition of technology — “an action performed on some form of inanimate or animate matter, designed to produce an object with human meaning … [as] exercised in its social context”[1] — author Francesca Bay analyzes the ways in … More Technology and Gender