Women’s Mentorship Tea

There is still room available for the our Women’s Mentorship Tea at the annual meeting this Saturday, November 8 at 4PM in Parks Boardroom. If you are interested RSVP to hssmentorship@gmail.com.


Early Career Profile – Monique Dufour

In our newest Career Profile meet Monique Dufour, a recent PhD who will be presenting her paper “‘The Library as Laboratory’: Bibliotherapy and the Clinical Study of Literature as Medicine, 1940–1960,” at HSS 2014 on Saturday morning (9:00AM-11:45AM) as part of the panel “The Institution as Laboratory: Captive Bodies and the Production of Scientific Knowledge” (Michigan Ballroom I, Level 2).

What is your approach to the history of science?

I explore encounters between science, medicine, and the humanities, especially in the 20th- and 21st centuries. I am curious about how and why people have tried to connect these domains and how each may have been reconstituted and transformed in the process. For instance, my dissertation, Reading for Health: Bibliotherapy and the Medicalized Humanities in the US, 1930-1965, aims to recover and explore the midcentury processes by which therapeutic reading became at once natural, medical, and scientific. I tell the story of midcentury hospital librarians, psychologists, and language arts educators who believed that reading could and should promote health, and for whom science seemed to offer the most promising way to develop knowledge about the “embodied reader.” I’m driven by topics and questions that allow me to explore how science—as an epistemological project, a cultural resource, as an article of faith—circulated.

Monique Dufour

Monique Dufour, Virginia Tech

What was your experience like at your first HSS meeting?

I first presented at HSS in 2011, when I was just starting to think about my dissertation. I came to doctoral work in Science and Technology Studies from the fields of writing, literature, and book history. As I developed my project, my advisor Matthew Wisnioski encouraged me to focus on the questions about science raised by my historical actors. “This is a history of science project,” he often told me. Because I was still learning about the history of science, I was a bit nervous about conceiving of the project in that way. But the experience of submitting that paper, presenting it, and participating in the conference was tremendous. I appreciated the collegial and genuinely curious spirit among the panelists and attendees alike, and especially the constructive feedback I received at my panel. While I came to the conference certain that the history of science was relevant to my emerging research program, I came away equally sure that this was a community of which I wanted to be a part. Anyone who has the erroneous impression that the history of science is only a specialized field for focused experts should attend HSS to experience for themselves the astonishing scope of topics, and their essential connections to cultural and social issues.

What do you see on your professional horizon?
Having just completed my PhD, I will soon be, like many of us, “on the market.” (What a phrase!) To help me through this process, I try each day to remember powerful advice given to me by a Virginia Tech colleague, Brian Britt: “Take seriously the idea of making a contribution.”

If I can paint my own horizon, I see a post-doc in which I can participate in a community of scholars, think and write together, and continue to develop my projects and research program. I then see a tenure-track position where I may build a writing and teaching life among colleagues. We all know that these goals are elusive, but I remain committed to believing that they are possible.

But as Annie Dillard says, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” So I’m working toward these goals through how I spend my days teaching and writing. Currently, I’m finishing an article for the medical humanities community about how U.S. librarians and psychologists in the 1970s deliberated quite explicitly about how to define therapeutic reading either as science-based medicine or as a humanistic practice. I’m also writing an article for a history of science and medicine audience about how literacy educators in the midcentury U.S. came to believe that it was their job to promote health. I really enjoy thinking about how my research and writing can and should change for different audiences, such as students at a range of levels and scholars from different disciplinary contexts. It keeps my writing fresh and challenging, and helps me to feel connected to others even when I’m sitting at my desk among my books and ideas.

Monique Dufour is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Virginia Tech, where she is also directs the Medicine and Society minor. She holds a PhD and MS in STS, as well as an MA in English. Before her doctoral work, she directed the University Writing Program and was a faculty development consultant at VT’s Center for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Previously, she was a Writing Fellow at Duke University’s University Writing Program. Her paper at this year’s HSS meeting in Chicago is a part of the panel, “The Institution as Laboratory: Captive Bodies and the Production of Scientific Knowledge.”

Midwest Junto for the History of Science

The 58th annual meeting of the Midwest Junto for the History of Science will be held April 17-19, 2015, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The 2015 Junto is hosted by the UW Department of the History of Science, one of the largest and oldest academic programs of its kind in the United States. Reflecting the program’s broad interest, we welcome submissions for 15-minute presentations on any aspect of the history and philosophy of science, medicine, and technology. Graduate students are especially encouraged to participate and, by Junto tradition, lodging for graduate student presenters will be partially subsidized.

A short abstract (100-150 words) of proposed papers or sessions should be submitted electronically by January 31, 2015, to Molly Laas at junto@histsci.wisc.edu. Please include your name, institutional affiliation, email, and phone number with your abstract.

Additional information on registration and accommodations will be added to the 2015 Junto website as it becomes available.

For further information, please contact Molly Laas at junto@histsci.wisc.edu.

The UW Department of the History of Science is pleased to host the 58th annual meeting of the Midwest Junto for the History of Science on April 17-19, 2015. Our location is the scenic and historic University of Wisconsin nestled between Lakes Monona and Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin, home to over 40,000 students pursuing studies in 132 undergraduate majors and well over 100 graduate degree programs. Here in the land of beer and cheese, the Midwest Junto will have no trouble holding to its founders’ vision that it should be informal and congenial. We look forward to your participation.

CV Reviews at HSS 2014

Graduate Students: Does you CV need a little work? Are you attending the History of Science Society meeting this week?

The History of Science Society’s Graduate and Early Career Caucus is offering free CV reviews for graduate students and early careerists during the History of Science Society’s meeting.

Sign up here. Although it may be possible to sign up during the meeting, we ask that you sign up ASAP to ensure your session time.

Early Careerist Profile – Courtney Thompson

How did you become interested in history of science?
I originally intended to be a Psychology major in college, until I took an introductory lecture course on the History of Psychiatry. I realized that I was much more interested in the history of the field than being a practitioner. I switched my major, and the rest is (pun intended) history.
Courtney Thompson, Yale University

Courtney Thompson, Yale University

How did you get involved in the GECC?

While attending a few HSS meetings and getting to know the GECC members, I found the various GECC opportunities (especially the mentorship tea and the CV review) to be really useful. I didn’t just want to benefit from GECC, I wanted to help make them happen.
What has your experience been like during your term?
Bridget and I have a great working relationship, and she has been very helpful in setting me up. The GECC officers are wonderful collaborators, and we have been working together to make sure our graduate and early career colleagues have a great time in Chicago.
What is something you have learned about the HSS through being an officer that others members may not know about the society?
Conference planning is even more difficult than I would have expected! Wrangling a large group of people, finding spaces for events, and working out timing and budget are increasingly challenging as the size of a group increases. I have new appreciation for the organizers, especially as we enter the busiest time of the academic year.
What is one of your current toughest professional challenges?
My current challenge is to find a balance between my daily writing and research schedule and the challenges of the job market, along with my other commitments, like GECC.
Courtney Thompson is a Ph.D. candidate in the program in the History of Science and Medicine at Yale University. Her dissertation, “Criminal Minds: Law, Medicine, and the Phrenological Impulse in America, 1830-1890,” explores the development of medico-legal approaches to crime in nineteenth-century America with a particular focus on the influence of phrenology. She will be presenting a paper on her current research at the upcoming HSS meeting in Chicago. This paper, “‘Directly at War with the Gallows’: The Prison and Phrenological Criminal Science,” will be presented as a part of a panel she organized on “The Institution as Laboratory.” She currently serves as the Mentorship Officer for the Graduate and Early Career Caucus.