Tag Archives: Chris Renwick

April 2016: “The Future of the History of the Human Sciences”

To mark the end of James Good‘s time as editor of History of the Human Sciences a special two-day meeting on “The Future of the History of the Human Sciences” is planned for April 7th and 8th, 2016. The meeting, hosted jointly by Chris Renwick and History of the Human Scienceswill take place at the University of York and feature as speakers: Roger Smith, Steve Fuller, Peter Mandler, Marianne Sommer, Amanda Rees, Michael Finn, Elizabeth Toon, Jessica Hendy, Maurizio Meloni, Des Fitzgerald, Alexandra Bacopoulos Viau, and Jonna Brenninkmeijer. Full details about the meeting, including (free) registration and postgraduate bursary information, follow below.

The Future of the History of the Human Sciences
University of York
Thursday 7th & Friday 8th April 2016

This two-day meeting, hosted jointly by Dr Chris Renwick and History of the Human Sciences, gathers together established scholars and early-career researchers to consider changes wrought in the broad interdisciplinary field of the history of the human sciences by new developments in the medical humanities, biological sciences, and literary/cultural theory. Marking the end of James Good’s 15-year tenure as HHS editor and the beginning of a new editorial team, comprising Dr Felicity Callard, Dr Rhodri Hayward, and Dr Angus Nicholls, the meeting will survey the field’s development since the foundation of HHS almost 20 years ago, and offer provocations – from various disciplinary perspectives – about the directions that it might take in the future.

Speakers include Roger Smith, Steve Fuller, Peter Mandler, Marianne Sommer, Amanda Rees, Michael Finn, Elizabeth Toon, Jessica Hendy, Maurizio Meloni, Des Fitzgerald, Alexandra Bacopoulos Viau, and Jonna Brenninkmeijer.

There will be four intensive sessions:

  1. The Problem of the Archive: biological data, digital media, material culture, and their impact upon the archive and human nature;
  2. The Problem of the Human: how the neurosciences are challenging conventional approaches to history;
  3. The Problem of the Social: How do models of ‘the social’ in the life sciences challenge those in the social sciences and humanities?
  4. Practice in the Human Sciences: new methods and approaches in medical humanities and science studies.

These sessions will be followed by a roundtable in which the outgoing and incoming History of the Human Sciences editors, plus speakers from the conference, discuss the state of the field and its future. Continue reading April 2016: “The Future of the History of the Human Sciences”

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Bowlby & Galton in British J. for Hist. of Sci.

The September 2011 issue of the British Journal for the History of Science (BJHS) has been released online. Included in this issue are two articles of interest to historians of psychology. The first, by Marga Vicedo of the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto, examines the American reception of John Bowlby’s (left) work on attachment in the 1950s. Part of Vicedo’s ongoing project on “Human Nature and Mother Love: The Search for the Maternal Instinct” the paper examines Bowlby’s contention that mother love was a biological need and the social ramifications of this contention. Also in this issue of BJHS is an article by Chris Renwick in which Renwick explores the motivations behind Francis Galton’s proposed eugenic programme and argues that Galton’s eugenic ideas were influence more by the social than biological science. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The social nature of the mother’s tie to her child: John Bowlby’s theory of attachment in post-war America,” by Marga Vicedo. The abstract reads,

This paper examines the development of British psychiatrist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby’s views and their scientific and social reception in the United States during the 1950s. In a 1951 report for the World Health Organization Bowlby contended that the mother is the child’s psychic organizer, as observational studies of children worldwide showed that absence of mother love had disastrous consequences for children’s emotional health. By the end of the decade Bowlby had moved from observational studies of children in hospitals to animal research in order to support his thesis that mother love is a biological need. I examine the development of Bowlby’s views and their scientific and social reception in the United States during the 1950s, a central period in the evolution of his views and in debates about the social implications of his work. I argue that Bowlby’s view that mother love was a biological need for children influenced discussions about the desirability of mothers working outside the home during the early Cold War. By claiming that the future of a child’s mind is determined by her mother’s heart, Bowlby’s argument exerted an unusually strong emotional demand on mothers and had powerful implications for the moral valuation of maternal care and love.

“From political economy to sociology: Francis Galton and the social-scientific origins of eugenics,” by Chris Renwick. The abstract reads,

Having coined the word ‘eugenics’ and inspired leading biologists and statisticians of the early twentieth century, Francis Galton is often studied for his contributions to modern statistical biology. However, whilst documenting this part of his work, historians have frequently neglected crucial aspects of what motivated Galton to establish his eugenics research programme. Arguing that his work was shaped more by social than by biological science, this paper addresses these oversights by tracing the development of Galton’s programme, from its roots in a debate about political economy to his appeals for it to be taken up by sociologists. In so doing, the paper not only returns Galton’s ideas to their original context but also provides a reason to reflect on the place of the social sciences in history-of-science scholarship.

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