21 June 2012
Thursday 21 Jun, 16.00-19.00, Peel Lecture Theatre, School of Geographical Sciences, University Road, BS8 1SS. Wine reception to follow.
Professor Steven Shapin
A historical survey of dietetics:
(1) Changing ideas of who we are via changing ideas about the relationship between the characteristics of aliment and characteristics of people; (2) Changing relationships between the categories of the medical, on the one hand, and the moral, on the other; (3) Changing engagements between the knowledge of aliment possessed by experts and that owned by laypeople. I survey aspects of Galenic medical dietetics from Antiquity through the early modern period, and indicate some of the cultural and social consequences of the decline of that traditional culture and the rise of “nutrition science” in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I use these materials to describe some of the key aspects of the modern condition: we are connected to the edible world in different ways than we once were; we distribute instrumental and moral knowledge differently; and we have new conditions of authority and credibility for expert knowledge which is of concern to the texture of our quotidian lives.
Steven Shapin is Franklin L. Ford Professor of the History of Science, joining Harvard in 2004 after previous appointments as Professor of Sociology at the University of California, San Diego, and at the Science Studies Unit, Edinburgh University. His books include Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life (with Simon Schaffer); A Social History of Truth: Civility and Science in Seventeenth-Century England; The Scientific Revolution; The Scientific Life: A Moral History of a Late Modern Vocation; Never Pure: Historical Studies of Science as if It Was Produced by People with Bodies, Situated in Time, Space, Culture and Society, and Struggling for Credibility and Authority, and several edited books. He has published widely in the historical sociology of scientific knowledge, and his current research interests include historical and contemporary studies of dietetics, the changing languages and practices of taste, the nature of entrepreneurial science, and modern relations between academia and industry. He writes regularly for the London Review of Books and has written for The New Yorker.
More information on Professor Shapin can be found on his website.
All welcome. Please do arrive in good time to ensure your seat.
There will be opportunity for further discussion over drinks after the talk.
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Download Steven Shapin lecture poster (786KB, PDF).