Search result: Catalogue data in Spring Semester 2020

History and Philosophy of Knowledge Master Information
Basic Courses
Lectures and Exercises
NumberTitleTypeECTSHoursLecturers
851-0101-01LIntroduction to Practical Philosophy
Particularly suitable for students of D-MAVT, D-MATL
W3 credits2GL. Wingert
AbstractPractical philosophy deals in a descriptive and evaluative way with the realm of the practical, that is, with action, practices, norms of action, and values held by people and societies. Ethics and political philosophy are branches of practical philosophy. This introductory course will treat some of the main questions and introduce students to the thinking of central figures in the field.
ObjectiveAt the end of the course, students (1) will be familiar with still highly influential answers to some of the main questions (see below, section "contents") in practical philosophy. (2) They will be able to better evaluate how convincing these answers are. (3) Students' own thinking concerning normative, e.g., ethical issues, will be more precise, due to a more sophisticated use of key concepts such as good, right, morality, law, freedom, etc.
ContentEthics is an account and instruction of the good, that could be reached by conscious, intentional behaviour (=action). Ethics is an essential part of practical philosophy. Therefore one of those central questions, which will be discussed in the course, is:

1. What is the meaning of words like "good" and "bad", used in ethical language? What is meant by "good", if one says: "Working as a volunteer for the <Red Cross> is good"? Does one mean, that doing so is useful, or that it is altruistic, or that is fair?

Further questions, to be discussed in the course, are:

2. Are moral judgements apt to be justified, e.g. judgments like "Lower taxes for rich foreigners in the <Kanton Zug> are unjust" or "Every person ought to be entitled to leave any religious community"? If so, how far a moral judgment's justification can reach? Is one right in arguing: "It is possible to show the truth of the proposition (a):The emissions of nitrogen dioxide in Zurich is far beyond the permissible limit (80 mg/m3). But it is not possible to verify the proposition (b): In our times, the inequal global distribution of wealth is far beyond the permissible limit. Proposition (a) states an objective fact, whereas (b) expresses a mere subjective evaluation, though that evaluation might be widely spread.

3. What are just laws, and what is the relationship between law and morality?

4. Is freedom of a person, though presupposed by criminal law and morality, nevertheless an illusion?

These questions will be partly discussed with reference to seminal authors within the western philosophical tradition (among else Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, Immanuel Kant). Contemporary philosophers like Jürgen Habermas, Thomas Nagel, Ernst Tugendhat or Bernard Williams will be included, too.
LiteraturePreparatory Literature:

-Dieter Birnbacher, Analytische Einführung in die Ethik, 2. Aufl. Berlin: de Gruyter Verlag 2006.
- Simon Blackburn, Think. A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy, Oxford: University Press (=UP) 1999, chapters 3 und 8.
- Philippa Foot, <Virtues and Vices> in: diess., Virtues and Vices and Other Essays in Moral Philosophy, Oxford: UP 2002, and <Morality, Action and Outcome>, in: dies., Moral Dilemmas and Other Topics in Moral Philosophy, Oxford: UP 2002.
- H.L.A. Hart, <Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals, in: Harvard Law Review 71 (1958), pp. 593-629.
- Detlef Horster, Rechtsphilosophie zur Einführung, Hamburg: Junius Verlag 2002.
- Robert Kane, <Introduction: The Contours of the Contemporary Free Will Debates>, in: ders., (Hg.), The Oxford Handbook of Free Will, Oxford 2002.
– Thomas Nagel, The Limits of Objectivity, in: The Tanner Lectures on Human Values 1980, Vol I., ed. Sterling McMurrin , Cambridge et al.: UP 1980, pp. 75-139.
- Ulrich Pothast, <Einleitung> in: ders., (Hg.), Seminar: Freies Handeln und Determinismus, Frankfurt/M.: suhrkamp taschenbuch wissenschaft 1978, pp. 7-31.
- Bernard Williams, Morality. An Introduction to Ethics, Cambridge: UP (=Canto Series) 1976.
- Peter Winch, The Idea of a Social Science, 4.Aufl. London 1965, ch. II.
Prerequisites / NoticeThe course will be a mixture of lecture and seminar. For getting credit points, essays on given or freely chosen subjects have to be written.
853-0726-00LHistory II: Global (Anti-Imperialism and Decolonisation, 1919-1975)W3 credits2VH. Fischer-Tiné
AbstractThe lecture will give an insight into the formation of anticolonial nationalist movements in Asia and Africa from the beginning of the 20th century onwards and discuss the various dimensions of dismantling of colonial empires.
ObjectiveThe lecture will give students an insight into the history of the non-European world, looking specifically into the political, economic, social and cultural transformation on the backgrounds of colonial penetration strategies and the resistance of anti-colonial movements. The aim is to show that societies in Asia and Africa are not just the product of colonial penetration or anti-colonial resistance, but that both aspects influenced the present political, economic, social and cultural perception of these parts of the world to a considerable extent. A nuanced knowledge of the long and arduous process of decolonisation is hence important to understand today's geopolitical constellation, still characterised by the struggle for a just post-imperial world order.
LiteratureJansen, J.C. und Osterhammel, J., Dekolonisation: Das Ende der Imperien, München 2013.
Prerequisites / NoticeA detailed syllabus will be available in due course at Link
851-0148-00LIntroduction to Philosophy: Prophets, Judges, Fools, and Healers
Does not take place this semester.
W3 credits2VM. Hampe
AbstractThis lecture gives an overview of forms of philosophizing for students of the natural sciences and engineering. It is at the same time an introduction to philosophy for beginners of this subjects.
ObjectiveStudents of the natural sciences and technology will be given an overview of the different forms of philosophizing. Beginners of this subject will receive a general introduction to philosophy. In order to acquire credit points, a critical summary of one lesson of choice must be submitted (about 5-7 pages).
ContentPhilosophy is done in different forms: as a diagnosis of a time, from which one can develop a prognosis, as an evaluation of action and thinking, and as a commentary of a spectator, who detects contradictions and and tries to give a therapy to human acting and thinking. By looking at texts from Plato, Kant, Morus, Nietzsche, Carnap, Wittgenstein and others the course will give an introduction into philosophical thinking in general.
Lecture notesDas Skript der Vorlesung ist unter der folgenden internetadresse zu finden: Link
LiteratureMichael Hampe, Propheten, Richter, Ärzte, Narren: Eine Typologie von Philosophen und Intellektuellen, in: Martin Carrier und Johannes Roggenhofer (Hg.) Wandel oder Niedergang? Die Rolle der Intellekturelln in der Wissengesellschaft, Tranbscript Verlag, Münster 2007
Prerequisites / NoticeCredits are given for a critical summary of about six pages of one of the lectures. There will be a titorial to support the writing of this summary.
851-0125-65LA Sampler of Histories and Philosophies of Mathematics
Particularly suitable for students D-CHAB, D-INFK, D-ITET, D-MATH, D-PHYS
W3 credits2VR. Wagner
AbstractThis course will review several case studies from the ancient, medieval and modern history of mathematics. The case studies will be analyzed from various philosophical perspectives, while situating them in their historical and cultural contexts.
ObjectiveThe course aims are:
1. To introduce students to the historicity of mathematics
2. To make sense of mathematical practices that appear unreasonable from a contemporary point of view
3. To develop critical reflection concerning the nature of mathematical objects
4. To introduce various theoretical approaches to the philosophy and history of mathematics
5. To open the students' horizons to the plurality of mathematical cultures and practices
851-0157-84LHealth and Disease
Particularly suitable for students of D-BIOL, D-HEST
W3 credits2VM. Hagner
AbstractHealth and disease belong to the fundamental conditions of human life. Thus, human beings have conceived different ideas and theories concerning health and disease in history. It is the aim of this lecture series to introduce this historical variety in transcultural perspective from antiquity to the present.
ObjectiveIt is the aim of this lecture series to introduce this historical variety in transcultural perspective from antiquity to the present.
851-0004-00LErrors, Deception, Lies and Similar PhenomenonsW3 credits2VM. Hampe, H. Fischer-Tiné, D. Gugerli, M. Hagner, A. Kilcher, R. Wagner, U. J. Wenzel
AbstractErrors, deceptions and lies are phenomena, which are part of science, its application and interpretation. This lecture-course of the lecturers of Knowledge-section of DGESS discusses these phenomena in different scientific disciplines, and different times and in different political contexts.
ObjectiveAcquiring knowledge about the structure and history of epistemic blunders in different scientific disciplines.
ContentErrors, deceptions and lies are phenomena, which are part of science, its application and interpretation. This lecture-course of the lecturers of the Knowledge-section of DGESS discusses these phenomena in different scientific disciplines, and different times and in different political contexts.
851-0521-00LComputer History. An IntroductionW3 credits2VD. Gugerli
AbstractThe lecture will explore the question of how the world got into the computer. The history of this great move in the second half of the 20th century is told by focusing on bottlenecks, the overcoming of which has created new difficulties.
ObjectiveThe students learn to understand the effects of techno-historical narratives and arguments.
Lecture notesThe exact programme will be presented at the beginning of the semester.
851-0100-00LWhat Is Truth? Philosophical Conceptions of a Crucial NotionW3 credits2GL. Wingert
AbstractTruths are strange entities. (1) they depend on us. For it is a sentence or a belief of human creatures which can be true or false. (2)Truths are nothing like a modeling clay in our hands. It’s not up to us whether our beliefs are true or false. How do (1)and(2) go together? In dealing with this question we will investigate the relation between the concepts of truth, facts, and objectivity.(396Z.)
ObjectiveThe attentive participant will probably achieve the following:

1. an acquaintance with influential philosophical answers to the question how to understand the concept of truth ( as correspondence between belief and fact; as coherence between beliefs and experiences; as that belief, that survives all challenges);

2. a deeper understanding of the relation between truth and facts;

3. a knowledge of arguments backing the thesis that objectivity, understood as an attitude of X, needs an aiming of X at truths without commiting X to the claim that one is infallible like the catholic pope.

Perhaps (dependent on available time):

4. overcomig the prejudice that we have facts and truth on the one side, and merely valuations and subjective standpoints on the other side.
Literature1. Thomas Grundmann, Philosophische Wahrheitstheorien, Stuttgart: Reclam 2019.

2. Bertrand Russell, Problems of Philosophy, Buffallo: Prometheus Books 1988, ch. 12: „Truth and Falsehood“.

3. Bede Rundle, Facts, London: Duckworth 1993, ch. 1: „Facts“.

4. Oliver Schlaudt, Was ist empirische Wahrheit?, Frankfurt/M.: Klostermann 2014, Kap. 6: „Wahrheit und Praxis“.

5. Frank Hoffmann, Die Metaphysik der Tatsachen, Paderborn: Mentis 2008, Kap. 1: Wahrheit; Kap. 5: Tatsachen.

6. Richard Evans, Facts in History, in: ders., In Defence of History, London: Granta Books 1997.

7. Crispin Wright, , Truth: A Traditional Debate Revisited, in: Smon Blackburn/Keith Simmons (eds.), Truth, Oxford 1999.

8. John Dupré, Tatsachen und Werte, in: Gerhard Schurz/Martin Carrier(Hg.), Werte in den Wissenschaften, Berlin: Suhrkamp 2013.
851-0317-00LUniversal Knowledge. The Theory of the Encyclopedia between Literature and PhilosophyW3 credits2VA. Kilcher
AbstractThe encyclopedic form is essential to the history of knowledge and also constantly changed by it. The traditional claim of an encyclopedia is to itemize all objects of knowledge, ultimately representing them as a tangible whole. To do so, however, aesthetic and poetic strategies are employed that effectively produce such totality.
ObjectiveThe encyclopedic form is essential to the history of knowledge and also constantly changed by it. The traditional claim of an encyclopedia is to itemize all objects of knowledge, ultimately representing them as a tangible whole. To do so, however, aesthetic and poetic strategies are employed that effectively produce such totality. The course will survey the history as well as theory of the encyclopedia, highlighting above all the aesthetic variety of encyclopedic forms.
ContentDie Form der Enzyklopädie ist in der Geschichte des Wissens ebenso prägend wie wandelbar. Sie beruht auf dem Anspruch, sämtliche Gegenstände des Wissens zu erfassen und diese möglichst übersichtlich als Totalität darzustellen. Dieser Anspruch wird nicht nur medial, sondern auch ästhetisch und poetologisch umgesetzt. Seit der Antike und dem Mittelalter konkurrieren unterschiedliche Modelle, erst recht in der Neuzeit, wo die Vorlesung hauptsächlich ansetzt: topische Ordnungssysteme wurden zunächst durch rationale, dann durch kontingente Formen der Wissensorganisation abgelöst. So hatte im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert das alphabetische Wörterbuch seine grosse Karriere. Die letzte grosse, wesentlich medientechnische Transformation der Enzyklopädie erfolgte im digitalen Zeitalter mit dem Internet und den entsprechenden Enzyklopädien wie der Wikipedia. Der sich dergestalt vielfach wandelnde philosophische Anspruch greift auf eine Vielzahl von ästhetischen Darstellungsformen zurück, die je die enzyklopädische Totalität erzeugen. Die Vorlesung gibt einen Überblick über die Geschichte und Theorie der Enzyklopädie und legt dabei ein besonderes Augenmerk auf diese Vielfalt der Formen. Diese werden nicht zuletzt auch in spezifischen literarischen Gattungen und Texten umgesetzt, insbesondere dem Roman.
851-0161-00LThe Quarrel about Human NatureW3 credits2VM. Hampe
AbstractThis lecture-course gives an overview over the quarrel about how "human nature" is to be determined -- a quarrel that started long before the establishment of empirical research into humans by human-biology, psychology, sociology and cultural anthropology dominated many debates in European philosophy.
ObjectiveAcquiring critical knowledge of the history of the concept of "human nature", especially of its ideological and political misuse.
ContentDie Vorlesung gibt einen Überblick über die Geschichte des Streites um die Bestimmung der so genannten "Natur des Menschen", de lange vor der Etablierung der Erfahrungswissenschaften, die den Menschen erforschen wie Humanbiologie, Psychologie, Soziologie, Ethnologie usw. die abendländische Philosophie bestimmt hat. Seit den 90er Jahren des letzten Jahrhunderts wird die Verwendung dieses Begriffs zunehmend kritisiert. Feststellungen, was der rein spekulativ bestimmten Natur des Menschen vermeintlich entspricht oder widerspricht, haben immer wieder zur Legitimation von normativen Setzungen gedient. Die Vorlesung verfolgt die Geschichte dieses Konzepts von der antiken Metaphysik über die Philosophie der Aufklärung im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert bis hin zu den Streitigkeiten zwischen der Philosophie, der Biologie, der Psychologie und Soziologie, die seit dem 19. Jahrhundert im Gange sind.
851-0002-00LPastime, Disciplinary Tool, Mass Culture: A Global History of Sports circa 1700-2000W3 credits2VH. Fischer-Tiné
AbstractThe course gives an overview of the historical trajectories of sports and games in various parts of the world since 1700. It seeks to understand sports as leisure activity, method of physical (self-) optimization, political tool and form of mass Entertainment and explores the interrelation of games and sports with moving forces of modernity such as capitalism, colonialism and consumer culture.
ObjectiveOn one level, the course aims to familiarise students with the historical development of an ubiquitous aspect of modern everyday culture, namely leisure, sports and play. Each case study is used to deepen the participants' understanding of complex historical transformations by telling the story of what has been termed "the ludic diffusion" from a decidedly non-eurocentric, global perspective.
851-0299-00LLiterature, Art and Politics in Fin-de-siècle Paris, Vienna, Prague, and BerlinW3 credits2VS. S. Leuenberger
AbstractLiterature and art in 1900 were characterised by the conflict between the perception of decline and the hope of renewal. Analysis of literary, philosophical and critical theory texts illustrates that some authors were not merely passive observers of the crisis, they also experienced it first-hand in their writing. This crisis subsequently became the model for a new form of linguistics.
ObjectiveThe lecture is part of the ‘Science in Perspective’ course programme: students will learn about literature, art and philosophy at the turn of the 20th century with case studies featuring literary, epic, dramatic and discursive texts from around 1900 which are characterized by the conflict between the perception of decadence, decay and death on the one hand, and hope of rebirth, renewal and rejuvenation on the other hand. Analysis of these texts illustrates that several authors not only observed the language crisis, the increasing awareness of the impossibility of representation through language, which was accompanied by a questioning of the self (I), but they also experienced it in their writing. This crisis subsequently became the model for a new form of linguistics. These literary forays, and indeed other ideological and political thinking and models of salvation and future at the time, including socialism, anarchy, psychoanalysis and Zionism will also be addressed in the lecture.
ContentThe reading list includes literary texts and discursive texts, amongst others, from Stéphane Mallarmé, Stefan George, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Lou Andreas-Salomé, Ernst Mach, Hermann Bahr, Richard Dehmel, Christian Morgenstern, Sigmund Freud, Bertha Pappenheim, Else Lasker-Schüler, Arthur Schnitzler, Theodor Herzl, Robert Walser and Thomas Mann.
851-0110-00LThe Frontier in LiteratureW3 credits2VM. Enard
AbstractIn this course, I will develop a reflexion around borders, limits, and frontiers in literature.
ObjectiveWe will focus on subjects such as bilingualism, multilingualism, and the representation of the
front in the literature of war.
ContentIn this course, I will develop a reflexion around borders, limits, and frontiers in literature. We will focus on subjects such as bilingualism, multilingualism, and the representation of the front in the literature of war. The teaching language is French, however, by definition, to be
interested in such subjects, implies also the exploration of texts and/or linguistic domains
outside of 'Francophonie'.
851-0109-00LPublic Images of ScienceW3 credits2VM. Bucchi
AbstractThe course will analize in a historical and sociological approach the public images of science and scientists and their major changes.
ObjectiveIn particular, we will explore the following subjects: the role of the visual element in the communication of science and its public representation; the role of ‘visible scientists’, with particular consideration of Nobel Prize winners; events and affairs that have shaped the public perception of science and the relationship between science and society.
ContentThe course will analize in a historical and sociological approach the public images of science and scientists and their major changes.
In particular, we will explore the following subjects: the role of the visual element in the communication of science and its public representation; the role of ‘visible scientists’, with particular consideration of Nobel Prize winners; events and affairs that have shaped the public perception of science and the relationship between science and society.
Various examples will be quoted and discussed, and will illustrate the Italian science and its relationship to society and to the various cultural fields (literature, visual arts, gastronomy), with particular reference to the period from the second half of the 19th century until the end of the 20th century.
851-0170-00LThe Birth of Formal Sciences: History and Philosophy of the Relation Between Logic and MathematicsW3 credits2VJ. L. Gastaldi
AbstractFormal knowledge, such as mathematics and logic, has a singular capacity to resist historical critique. But what if formality itself had a history - a recent birth and a foreseeable decline? In this course, we will explore this hypothesis by critically assessing the novel relationship between mathematics and logic that emerged in the 19th century, forging our notion of formal.
ObjectiveDuring the course, students will be able to:
-Acquire a general perspective on the history of formal logic
-Review relevant aspects of the history of modern mathematics
-Obtain philosophical and historical tools for critically assessing the status of formal sciences
-Develop a critical understanding of the notion of formal
-Discuss the methodological capabilities of historical epistemology
ContentKnowledge reputed to be formal, such as mathematics and logic, has a singular capacity to resist historical critique. Indeed, from a traditional perspective, a historical account of a purely formal statement, like a theorem, can hardly do more than show the inevitable path that led to its evident and thenceforth everlasting truth. But what if formality itself had a history - a relative recent birth and a foreseeable decline? In this course, we will explore this hypothesis by critically assessing the conditions, impact and limits of the novel relationship between mathematics and logic that emerged in the 19th century, forging both the modern notion of formal and the subsequent epistemological status of formal sciences. After discussing the difficulties of a historical (or archaeological, in the sense that M. Foucault gives to this term) approach to formal knowledge, we will present the principal historical circumstances providing the conditions for an unprecedented association between logic and mathematics. This will give us the means to undertake the detailed study of that association, within the context of the most prominent attempts to provide formal deductive languages in the 19th century: those of George Boole and Gottlob Frege. Finally, we will address the limitations manifested by those projects at the turn of the 20th century, putting them into perspective to assess the transformation our notion of formal is experiencing as a result of the proliferation of computational practices.
Seminars
NumberTitleTypeECTSHoursLecturers
851-0147-01LTheories, Experiments, Causality
Does not take place this semester.
Particularly suitable for students of D-PHYS
W3 credits2GR. Wallny, M. Hampe
AbstractThis course critically evaluates topics and approaches from physics against a broader historical and philosophical/systematic background. Attention will be paid, amongst other things, to the role of experiments, to the concepts of matter and field, and to theory formation.
ObjectiveStudents should be able to critically evaluate different topics and approaches in physics. They should also be enabled to communicate their insights to people from other disciplines and fields.
Prerequisites / NoticeThis course is part of the ETH "Critical Thinking" initiative.
851-0158-13LEcology and Environmentalism Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 40

Particularly suitable for students of D-ERDW, D-HEST, D-USYS, D-BIOL
W3 credits2SN. Guettler
AbstractThe notion of „ecology“ refers to both, scientific research on environments as well as their protection. But how have academic ecology and the environmental movements intersected throughout history?
ObjectiveIn the seminar, students will read and discuss key sources as well as secondary literature on the knowledge transfers between scientific ecology and the environmental movements of the 19th and 20th century. Topics range from 19th-century homeland movement and the rise of ecological awareness in colonial settings, to the rise of an environmental awareness during the Cold War, with a special focus on „green“ politics in Europe. Apart from scientists and „counter-scientists“ the seminar focuses on concepts and ideas that circulated between academic ecology and different nature movements.
The participants learn to engage historically with original texts as well as to handle independently the extensive historical literature on the history of environmentalism. At the same time, they develop a critical understanding of different political agendas that have shaped academic and popular ecology until the present day. Students also learn to communicate their findings by writing short (and fictive) blog posts on different aspects of this history.
851-0125-67LStructuralist and Post-Structuralist Approaches to Signs and Knowledge Restricted registration - show details W3 credits2SR. Wagner
AbstractThis course will review some structuralist and post-structuralist approaches to signs and knowledge. It will start from the French structuralist tradition, continue with the "1968 thinkers", and conclude with feminist and queer critiques of knowledge that rely on this tradition. The theories studied in class will be evaluated in terms of their application to science studies.
Objective1. To introduce the structuralist and post-structuralist tradition, as well as subsequent queer and feminist critiques of knowledge (the thinkers taught in the course will most probably come from the following list: Ferdinand de Saussure, Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva, Michel Foucault, Jean Baudrillard, Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, and Donna Harraway).
2. To apply the ideas of this tradition to the context of science studies

At the end of the course the students will be able to analyze scientific texts and practices in terms of structuralist, post-structuralist and feminist critique of science.
851-0101-59LScience and Masculinities Restricted registration - show details W3 credits2SB. Schär
AbstractMen have always been over-represented in the sciences. Why is this so? This seminar inquires how male supremacy in science evolved and transformed historically in different places around the world. How was and is science linked to particular images of manliness? How did and do women and non-conforming men around the world nonetheless succeed in doing science?
ObjectiveStudents will become familiarized with the history of science from the perspective of gender history. Gender Historians understand male dominance in science not as natural phenomenon, but rather as feature in need of historical inquiry and explanation.
The aim of this seminar is therefore to examine different ways historians analyse and explain historical and ongoing male overrepresentation in the sciences. By reading case studies from different parts of the world, students will be able to evaluate firstly how male overrepresentation was and remains linked to legacies of western and middle-class dominance in science. Secondly, they will also explore how women and non-conforming men nevertheless succeed(ed) in science at different historical points in time.
Students will have the opportunity to select a topic from the ETH Zurich's gendered history and write an essay on how masculinity and gender operate(d)s in our university.
ContentThis seminar treats male overrepresentation in the sciences as a phenomenon in need of historical explanation. Reading case studies from around the world, students will be able to asses how male overrepresentation was and remains linked with legacies of western and middle-class dominance in the sciences. Student will analyze aspects of this history in the case of ETH Zurich in a term paper.
851-0003-00LScience and Food in the Development of the Modern World (1890s–1970s) Restricted registration - show details W2 credits1SS. G. Sujeet George
AbstractThis seminar course aims to offer a historical perspective on the development of modern food systems, agrarian science and global cultures of taste and eating.
ObjectiveTo understand the links between science and modern food cultures; evaluate the global connections in the formation of national cuisines; analyze how science and the food industry have shaped people’s ideas of taste, nutrition and aesthetics.
ContentLooking at specific food and non-food commodities cultivated, developed and consumed across different regions in the world through the late 19th and 20th centuries, the course shall try to make sense of the aesthetic, economic and scientific assumptions inherent within the varied food palettes of our modern world. The course shall introduce students to the interlinked and overlapping histories of the development of modern agricultural science, the political economy of food production, distribution and consumption, and ideas of culinary aesthetics and national cuisines.

Students shall engage with the histories and debates around agricultural research, ideas of nutrition and hunger, questions of race, diversity and community belonging, and the troubled narratives of environment and sustainability in industrial agriculture. The course will utilize a combination of historical pamphlets and advertisements, newspaper accounts, as well as contemporary documentary films to engage with some of the core questions around the modern history of food cultures and agrarian science.
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