Sidoli, Nathan Camillo
Spring, 2023
Office hours: Thursday, 4th and 5th

SILS, 11-1409
x71-8371
[email protected]

Announcements

I will put announcements about the class in this space. Please check here periodically as the term progresses.

Seminar on Matter and Information:
History of Science - Transmissions in Eurasia

Course Description

Science studies covers a broad range of topics in the history, philosophy and sociology of the sciences wherever and whenever they have been practiced. Because of this scope, there is great diversity in the styles of scholarship practiced and the views about science put forward by scholars in the field. For these reasons, this seminar will be based around a particular theme each term.

In the 2023 Spring Term, we will be studying transmissions of scientific texts, ideas, and artificts in Eurasia from the medieval to early modern periods. We will read a number of primary and secondary sources from the 7th through the 17th centuries.

Students are expected to do all of the readings, participate actively in classroom discussions, and write a final paper.

Required Texts

A number of papers and book chapters will be available for download from this site.

Grading:

Participation 50%
Final paper 50%

General Format

The class meets once a week for a seminar discussion. Attendance and participation in class are mandatory and graded. Each week, we will discuss a chapter or two from the text, and other topics of interest. Students are expected to do all the readings, participate actively in the discussions, submit a final paper and give an in class presentation on its contents.

Classroom Etiquette

Please follow basic rules of decorum – do not sleep, eat, or carry on individual conversations in class. Finally, DO NOT use mobile phones, smart phones, or laptops in class. (Unfortunately, a large percentage of students use their laptops to do unrelated things during class, and this distracts both them and everyone behind them.)

Final Paper

Writing project, 3,000-5,000 words.

This term the writing project will be a history paper. This means that you need to learn a lot about a historical topic and tell a story about it. Ideally, you should pick your topic early and do a lot of reading. You should come up with your own idea for a final project that is based on the work we are studying. The best kind of project will be on a subject in which you are personally interested.

The project will be done in three phases: (1) a topic proposal and preliminary bibliography, (2) an annotated bibliography (3) a final paper.

  • (1) Start thinking about possible topics right away. Once you have selected a topic, you should write up a short description of the story you will tell, which should be followed by a short bibliography (two or three items).
  • (2) You should begin to read your sources and take notes on them. Make a bibliographic list of at least ten sources, with a short blurb on each one.
  • (3) Based on all this reading, write up your account of the historical events.
  • Please also read the general guidelines for written assignments.

    Discussion Topics, Readings and Assignments

    As you read through the readings, you should ask yourself the following questions:

      1. What is the overall point that the author is trying to make?
      2. What is the author’s argument? What evidence does the author use? What are the strong points of the argument, the weak points?
      3. Is the argument convincing? Why, or why not?
      4. Why would the author make this kind of argument? What is the broader context in which this is interesting?
    Week 1: Apr 12

    General Introduction

  • No reading.
  • Week 2: Apr 19

    Arabic science, 8th–10th centuries

  • Reading: Montgomery, S., Science in Translation, Chap. 3.
  • Week 3: Apr 26

    India and Centra Asia, 8th-9th centuries

  • Reading: Van Bladel, K., “The Backtrian Background...”, Van Bladel, K., “Eigth-Century Indian Astronomy...”.
  • Holiday: May 3

    No Class

  • No Reading.
  • Week 4: May 10

    Early Islamic translations

  • Reading: Brentjes, S., ed., Routledge Handbook on the Sciences in Islamicate Societies, chaps, I.2, I.3, I.4.
  • Week 5: May 17

    Latin, 12th century

  • Reading: Montgomery, S., Science in Translation, Chap. 4.
  • Week 6: May 24

    Latin texts in Spain, 12th–13th centuries

  • Reading: Burnett, C., “Antioch as a Link...”; Burnett, C., “The Coherence of the Arabic-Latin Translation Program...”.
  • Week 7: May 31

    Asian geography in the medieveal period, I

  • Reading: Park, H., Mapping the Chinese and Islamic Worlds, Chap. 3.
  • Week 8: Jun 7

    Asian geography in the medieveal period, II

  • Reading: Park, H., Mapping the Chinese and Islamic Worlds, Chap. 4.
  • Week 9: Jun 14

    Greek Astronomy in China

  • Reading: Mak, B., “Greek Astral Sciences in China”.
  • Week 10: Jun 21

    Islamic Science in Early Modern China

  • Reading: Weil, D., “Chinese-Muslims as Agents of Astral Knowledge in Late Imperial China”.
  • Week 11: Jun 28

    Aristotelian cosmology in early modern Japan, I

  • Reading: Cieslik, H., “The Case of Christov√£o Ferreira” (pages 1-40).
  • Week 12: Jul 5

    Aristotelian cosmology in early modern Japan, II

  • Reading: Cieslik, H., “The Case of Christov√£o Ferreira” (pages 40-54); Hiraoka, R., “Deciphering Aristotle with Chinese Medical Cosmology”.
  • Week 13: Jul 12

    Translating science in Japanese, I

  • Reading: Montgomery, S., Science in Translation, Chap. 5.
  • Week 14: Jul 24

    Translating science in Japanese, II

  • Reading: Montgomery, S., Science in Translation, Chap. 6.