The September 2010 issues of The British Journal for the History of Science and Isis each contain an article on the history of psychology. The former journal features an article by Michael Pettit on the history of the raccoon as a psychological research subject and why the animal failed to attain prominence in the discipline in the way of rats and pigeons. In Isis historian of science Michael Sokal uses the case of early American psychologist James McKeen Cattell to argue that scientific biography can be enhanced if one puts to use the insights derived from modern psychology. Also in this issue of Isis is a review of Alexandra Rutherford‘s book Beyond the Box: B.F. Skinner’s Technology of Behaviour from Laboratory to Life, 1950s-1970s by Jill Morawski. AHP has previously discussed Beyond the Box here, here, and here. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“The problem of raccoon intelligence in behaviourist America” by Michael Pettit. Continue reading Raccoons & Scientific Biography
The History of the Human Sciences has just released its December issue online. Featured in the issue are articles on twin research, sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld (pictured left) and biography as historical method, photography and biological vision, and the role of the environment in early American sociology.
In “Twin research, revisionism and metahistory,” Thomas Teo and Laura C. Ball, both of York University, explore the carefully managed presentation of the history of twin research. As is stated early on, the “article does not provide a history but is interested in the historiography, or, better, the historical accounts and reconstructions, of twin research, written by insiders” (p. 3). Teo and Ball look at how insiders selected pioneers in the field and what historical evidence has been privileged in constructing a history of twin research. The abstract to this article reads:
We understand metahistory as an approach that studies how histories within a particular discipline have been written and focus on insider scientists’ reconstructions of twin research. Using the concept of ethical-political affordances we suggest that such histories are based on a management of resources that prove to be beneficial for representing one’s own research traditions in a positive light. Instead of discussing information on the context and intellectual life of pioneers of the twin method, which include high-caliber eugenicists and Nazi ideologues, and on how the twin method has been used and abused, insider scientists’ accounts present twin research as neutral, objective and void of any kind of political connotations. Continue reading Twin Research, Biography as Method, and More
The New York Times is reporting that the Graduate Center of the City University of New York has plans for a new institution devoted to “the art and scholarship of biography.”
Financed by a $3.7 million gift from the Leon Levy Foundation, the new center will offer four fellowships for this fall to academics and others who are working on biographies, as well as two fellowships to graduate students at CUNY who are writing biographical dissertations. Next year the center will add two more fellowship slots.
The new center will be co-directed by Nancy Milford and David Nasaw and will sponsor an annual conference. Continue reading CUNY/Leon Levy Foundation create Biography Center
In the Dec 2007 issue of Isis, Ian Nicholson (St. Thomas U.) reviewed Thomas Blass’ (U. Maryland, Baltimore County) biography of one of the most prominent social psychologists of the 20th century — The Man Who Shocked the World: The Life and Legacy of Stanley Milgram (Basic, 2004). Milgram is, of course, best known for his obedience research in the early 1960s, in which two-thirds of subjects, led to believe they were part of a simple learning study, were willing to deliver electric shocks to another participant up to the point of his apparent death. Continue reading Milgram Biography Reviewed in Isis