General Information / All sections
Instructor: Karl Hall
Time: Friday, 10:50-12:30
Place: QS D107
Zoom: If some or all of us need to connect online, please use this link.
Number of credits: 2 (ESP/ETCC students may apply these credits toward their stream curriculum total.)
Course level: MA
Prerequisites: None: no background in environmental history or history of science and technology is assumed.Course aims:
This course provides an opportunity to study how "energy" has become the ultimate fungible concept in the modern age, crossing domains and rendering previously incompatible "resources" within a common analytic framework over time. For the scientist and engineer it may be obvious that energy flows are essential to how we conceive of interconnected systems. It is all the more important for the historian to learn to recognize some of these patterns when approaching general questions of economic, social, and cultural development at diverse temporal scales up to the recent past, while also offering historical critiques of taken-for-granted energy concepts and practices in the present day. We will use these topics to draw ourselves outside the usual spatial and temporal frames that dominate political, social, and in some respects even economic history. While we will interrogate the global and universal nature of energy-related concepts and practices, this will not be an exercise in world history, but rather an opportunity to study passages between local, national, regional, and imperial in the Habsburg, Romanov, and Hohenzollern empires and their successor states. Where possible, we will employ Russian, German, Hungarian, Polish, Czech, and Ukrainian sources when discussing course themes, though we do not limit ourselves to Central and Eastern Europe.
For students from other departments who have contemporary energy-related interests, the course provides an opportunity to see how "energy" came to perform these unifying functions in agriculture, the age of coal and steam, new fossil-fuel regimes, and on to atomic power in the twentieth century. By pursuing various scales of historical understanding through the lens of energy, we can interrogate our own modes of narrative and explanation, steering between the Scylla of energy as the ultimate structural determinant and the Charybdis of energy as a contingent externality whose explanatory function is marginal compared to epidemics or volatile human whims. Recent debates in environmental history will inform some of the topic selection, as will history of science and technology, with each inviting the other to keep producers and consumers in the same historical frame. The end result should also open up new perspectives on certain aspects of social and cultural history, as well as urban history. How we organize energy flows past and present can indeed tell us much about the relation between humans and Nature, and also how various dichotomies between the two have been constructed in service to energy imperatives. Energy has been both deeply utopian and elusively mundane in different times and settings, and its protean meanings have become interwoven with more conventional conceptions of power in the modern age. By tracing these interconnections we can better understand the internal structures of modern sociotechnical systems and their relation to political and economic factors.
Learning outcomes: Students will build up a historical repertoire of human energy-use patterns ranging from early modern agriculture and mining to modern industrial capitalism, including the enabling intellectual frameworks that have grown (and sometimes ebbed) along with them. No prior assumptions are made regarding familiarity with scientific and social scientific analyses of so-called energy transitions, but the course will provide complementary and supplementary conceptual and empirical materials that will help students bind these transitions more effectively to more complex political, social, and cultural settings, especially in urban spaces. General history students will in turn learn to interrogate some of the historiographical conventions of political, social, cultural, and urban history through the study of energy practices.
Assessment: Class presentation: 20%; class discussion leader (twice, usually in combination with other students): 10% + 10%; review essay: 50%; general class participation: 10%.
Presentation: Maximum 15 minutes class time. An opportunity for students to connect one of the course themes more explicitly to their personal research interests, where applicable.
Review essay: 8-9 double-spaced pages (12-point font, no fiddling with the default margins; Chicago Manual of Style, full notes). Topics chosen in consultation with the instructor.
Deadline for review essay: April 6
Workload: The rule of thumb for this seminar is that two hours of preparation are needed for each hour of class time.
Dipesh Chakrabarty, The Climate of History in a Planetary Age (2021).
Cara New Daggett, The Birth of Energy: Fossil Fuels, Thermodynamics, and the Politics of Work (2019).
Richard Rhodes, Energy: A Human History (2018).
M. Norton Wise, Aesthetics, Industry & Science: Hermann von Helmholtz and the Berlin Physical Society (2018).
David Christian, Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History (2004).
Astrid Kander, Paolo Malanima, Paul Warde, eds., Power to the People: Energy in Europe over the Last Five Centuries (2013).
John R. McNeill, Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World (2000).
Vaclav Smil, Energy and Civilization: A History (2017) [updating his Energy in World History (1993)].
Crosbie Smith, The Science of Energy: A Cultural History of Energy Physics in Victorian Britain (1998).Bruce Clarke, Energy Forms: Allegory and Science in the Era of Classical Thermodynamics (2001). (excerpt)
Cutler J. Cleveland, ed., Encyclopedia of Energy (2004). [TJ163.28.E53]
Raymund Sosiński, Z dziejów energetyki (1964).
James Rodger Fleming, Historical Perspectives on Climate Change (1998).
Bruce J. Hunt, Pursuing Power and Light: Technology and Physics from James Watt to Albert Einstein (2010).
David E. Nye, "Consumption of energy," in Frank Trentmann, ed., The Oxford Handbook of the History of Consumption (2012).
Vaclav Smil, "Energy in world history," Energy and Civilization: A History (2017), 385-417.
French: "énergie," Diderot, Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, par une Société de Gens de lettres, vol. 5 (1755). Or this better facsimile.
English: "energy," Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language (1755).
English: "energy," Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language, 9th ed., vol. 2 (1805).
See also the "lexicon of energy" below (Croat, Czech, German, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovenian, Ottoman Turkish, Ukrainian, depending on student interests)
Erasmus Darwin, Zoonomia; Or, the Laws of Organic Life, 3rd. ed. (1809).
Robert P. Crease, "Energy in the history and philosophy of science," Encyclopedia of Energy (2004).
Gerhard Schaefer, "Verschiedene Sprachkulturen rund um Energie," in Herausforderung Energie (2011).Page (Text): 1 Single File: 1
N. N. "The Java upheaval," Nature (6 September 1883): 443, reprinted in Science 2 no. 35 (5 October 1883): 469-470.
Deborah R. Coen, "Imperial climatographies from Tyrol to Turkestan," Osiris 26 (2011): 45-65.
Deborah R. Coen, Climate in Motion: Science, Empire, and the Problem of Scale (2018).
Matthias Dörries, "The 'winter' analogy fallacy: From superbombs to supervolcanoes," History of Meteorology 4 (2008): 41-56.Joe Burchfield, Lord Kelvin and the Age of the Earth (1990).
Brian Fagan, The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History, 1300-1850 (2000).
Gillian D'Arcy Wood, Tambora: The Eruption That Changed the World (2014).
Alexandra Witze and Jeff Kanipe, Island on Fire: The extraordinary story of Laki, the eighteenth century volcano that turned Europe dark (2014).
J. Fleming, V. Jankovic, and D. Coen, eds., Intimate Universality: Local and Global Themes in the History of Weather and Climate (2006).
Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, Tambora and the "Year without a Summer" of 1816 (2016).
C. R. Harington, The Year Without a Summer? World Climate in 1816 (1992).
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"The resolution of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Paris not to entertain communications relating to Perpetual Motion" (1775). (From Dircks, Perpetuum Mobile)
Robert H. Thurston, "The modern steam-engine," A History of the Growth of the Steam Engine, 2nd. ed. (1886), 144-220. (This is a bit long, so don't get bogged down in the details, but do try to get a sense of the shape of the narrative, and especially how he depicts engineers.)
Crosby, Children of the Sun, 63-84.
John Adolphus Etzler, The Paradise Within the Reach of All Men, Without Labour, by Powers of Nature and Machinery (1833), iii–viii, 1–5, 52–59, 164–165.Simon Schaffer, "The show that never ends: Perpetual motion in the early eighteenth century," British Jour. Hist. Sci. 28 (1995): 157-189.
Thomas Carlyle, “Signs of the times,” Edinburgh Review 49 no. 98 (June 1829): 439–459.Mary Poovey, "From conjectural history to political economy," A History of the Modern Fact: Problems of Knowledge in the Sciences of Wealth and Society (1998), ch. 5.
Paul Warde, "The First Industrial Revolution," Power to the People, Part II.
Peter A. Shulman, "Engineering economy," Coal & Empire: The Birth of Energy Security in Industrial America (2015), chapter 2.
Rolf Sieferle, The Subterranean Forest: Energy Systems and the Industrial Revolution (2001).
Eric H. Robinson, "The Early Diffusion of Steam Power," The Journal of Economic History 34 (1974): 91-107.
E. A. Wrigley, Energy and the English Industrial Revolution (2010).
Crosbie Smith, Coal, Steam and Ships: Engineering, Enterprise and Empire on the Nineteenth-Century Seas (2018).
P. W. B. Semmens and A. J. Goldfinch, How Steam Locomotives Really Work (2000).
Andreas Malm, Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam-Power and the Roots of Global Warming (2016).
V. S. Virginskii, Vozniknovenie zheleznykh dorog v Rossii do nachala 40-kh XIX veka (1949). [ask instructor if you need this]
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Hermann von Helmholtz, “On the interaction of the natural forces,” Science and Culture: Popular and Philosophical Essays, ed. D. Cahan (1995 ), 18–45. (Cf. original German text; Hungarian translation (1874); Russian translation (1897); Czech chemist Vojtěch Šafařík's gloss of Helmholtz in Časopis Musea království Českého .)
Crosbie Smith, “‘The epoch of energy’: The new physics and the new cosmology,” The Science of Energy: A Cultural History of Energy Physics in Victorian Britain (1998), 126–149.
Take a brief walk through a late-eighteenth-century beer brewery and think about the potential challenges when scaling up such an enterprise for a burgeoning urban population. How might the process go awry?
Otto Sibum, "Reworking the mechanical value of heat: Instruments of precision and gestures of accuracy in early Victorian England," Stud. Hist. Phil. Sci. A 26 (1995): 73-106.
Yehuda Elkana, The Discovery of the Conservation of Energy (1974), 114-145.
Thomas S. Kuhn, "Energy conservation as an example of simultaneous discovery," The Essential Tension (1977), 66-104.
Hermann von Helmholtz, Über die Erhaltung der Kraft (1847).
James Joule, "On matter, living force, and heat" (1847).
Balfour Stewart, The Conservation of Energy, being an Elementary Treatise on Energy and its Laws (1873).
James Sumner, Brewing Science, Technology & Print, 1700-1880 (2013).
Mikuláš Teich, Bier, Wissenschaft und Wirtschaft in Deutschland 1800-1914: Ein Beitrag zur deutschen Industrialisierungsgeschichte (2000).
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Hermann Heinrich Gossen, "The general laws of pleasure and economic value," in The Laws of Human Relations and the Rules of Human Action Derived Therefrom, trans. Rudolph C. Blitz (1983 ), 3-14, 25-39. [And if you have any economics training you should absolutely read the entire text.]
Sergei Podolinsky, "Socialism and the unity of physical forces" (1880).[in class] Irving Fisher, "Mechanical analogies," Mathematical Investigations in the Theory of Value and Prices (1926).
Philip Mirowski, More Heat Than Light: Economics as Social Physics, Physics as Nature's Economics (1989).Single File: 1
Edward D. Melillo, "The first Green Revolution: Debt peonage and the making of the nitrogen fertilizer trade, 1840-1930," American Historical Review 117 (2012): 1028-1060.
Pick ONE reading from these options:
Czech: Anton Červený, "Guano," Rolník v přírodě (1871), 115-124.
Hungarian: "A guanot már Magyarországban is kezdik használni," Falusi gazda 2 n. 2 (1857): 83-84.
Polish: Julian Zabarowski, "Guano," Przyroda i Przemysl 1 n. 2 (1856): 12-14.
Russian: D. I. Mendeleev, "Производство искусственных удобрений," О современном развитии некоторых химических производств, в применении к России и по поводу Всемирной выставки 1867 года (1867), 123-156. [This is much longer than the other options, so you may count it as a presentation credit.]
German: "Ueber den Guano," Allgemeine land- und forstwirthschaftliche Zeitung (26 July 1851).
German: Ed. Tammel, "Wichtigkeits der Hilfs- oder künstlichen Düngemittel," Allgemeine land- und forstwirthschaftliche Zeitung (3 April 1852).
[Baltic] German: K. v. Fölkersahm, "Guano," Libausches Wochenblatt (21 March 1853).
English: John. W. Nesbit, On Peruvian Guano (1852).
Gregory T. Cushman, Guano and the Opening of the Pacific World: A Global Ecological History (2013).
George W. Peck, Melbourne and the Chincha Islands, with Sketches of Lima, and a Voyage Round the World (1854).
William Howard Russell, A Visit to Chile and the Nitrate Fields of Tarapaca etc. (1890).
Bärbel Rott, "Alexander von Humboldt brachte Guano nach Europa – mit ungeahnten globalen Folgen," International Review for Humboldtian Studies 17 (2016).
Jane Hutton, "Inexhaustible terrain," CCA (2016).
National Museum of American History exhibition, The Norie Marine Atlas and the Guano Trade (2016).
Dave Hollett, More Precious Than Gold: The Story of the Peruvian Guano Trade (2008).
Ernst Homburg, "Chemistry and industry: A tale of two moving targets," Isis 109 (2018): 565-576.
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Marx and Engels, "He becomes an appendage of the machine," in section 1, "Bourgeois and proletarians," from The Communist Manifesto (1848). [Read this whole section, but concentrate on the middle portion, where they spell out their position on machinery.] [Feel free to read this in any one of eighty languages.]W. O. Atwater and F. G. Benedict, "The respiration calorimeter," Yearbook of the Department of Agriculture (1904): 205-220.
Anson Rabinbach, The Human Motor: Energy, Fatigue, and the Origins of Modernity (1990), chapter 5.
Ken Alder, "Making Things the Same: Representation, Tolerance and the End of the Ancien Regime in France," Social Studies of Science 28 (1998): 499-545.
Donald Mackenzie, "Marx and the Machine," Technology and Culture 25 (1984): 473-502.
Bruce Bimber, "Karl Marx and the three faces of technological determinism," Social Studies of Science 20 (1990): 333-351.
Ken Alder, Engineering the Revolution: Arms and Enlightenment in France, 1763-1815 (1997).
Esther Kingston-Mann, In Search of the True West: Culture, Economics, and Problems of Russian Development (1999).Nathan Zuntz and Wilhelm Schumburg, Studien zu einer Physiologie des Marsches (1901).
Josefa Ioteyko, The Science of Labour and Its Organization (1919).
Jennifer Karns Alexander, The Mantra of Efficiency: From Waterwheel to Social Control (2008).
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Discussion leader: Sunny
Alison Frank Johnson, Oil Empire: Visions of Prosperity in Austrian Galicia (2005), 75-108.
Timothy Mitchell, "Machines of democracy," Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil (2011), 12-42.
Maurice Pearton, Oil and the Romanian State (1971), 1-69.J. Craig et al., eds., History of the European Oil and Gas Industry (2018).
Brian Black, Crude Reality: Petroleum in World History (2012).
Daniel Yergin, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power (1991), 114-149.
F. H. Trevithick, A Sketchy Report on the Petroleum Industry at Baku (1886).
Hellmuth Wolff, Die Russische Naphtha-Industrie und der Deutsche Petroleummarkt (1902).
J. D. Henry, Baku: An Eventful History (1905).
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Presentation: Pavel T.
Charles P. Steinmetz, “The future of electricity” (1900).
Henry Adams, “The dynamo and the virgin,” The Education of Henry Adams: An Autobiography (1918 ), 379–390.
Thomas P. Hughes, “Berlin: The coordination of technology and politics,” Networks of Power: Electrification in Western Society, 1880–1930 (1983), 175–200.
Wolfgang Schivelbusch, “Electrical apotheosis,” Disenchanted Night: The Industrialization of Light in the Nineteenth Century (1988 ), 50–78.Crosby, Children of the Sun, 101-116.
Jonathan Coopersmith, The Electrification of Russia (1992).
Roman Sandgruber, "The electrical century: The beginnings of electricity supply in Austria," in R. Porter and M. Teich, eds., Fin de Siècle and its Legacy (1990), 42-53.
Vincent Lagendijk, Electrifying Europe: The Power of Europe in the Construction of Electricity Networks (2008), chapter 3.
G. Krzhizhanovskii, "Zadachi nauchnogo fronta elektrifikatsii," Sotsialisticheskoe stroitel'stvo (1936), 404-411.
James E. Brittain, "The International Diffusion of Electric Power Technology, 1870-1920," Journal of Economic History 34 (1974): 108-30.
Kirchner, Walther, "Siemens and AEG and the Electrification of Russia, 1890-1914," Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas 30 (1982): 399-428.
A Russian bibliography.Files: 4
Presentation: Pavel Iu.
Wilhelm Ostwald, Monism as the Goal of Civilization (1913).V. I. Vernadsky, "Biosphere in the cosmos," The Biosphere (1998 ), 43-89. [Russian original]
Crosbie Smith, The Science of Energy (1999), ch. 14.
Wilhelm Ostwald, "The modern theory of energetics," The Monist 17 (1907): 481-515.
Max Weber, "'Energetic' theories of culture," Mid-American Review of Sociology 9 no. 2 (1984 ): 33-58.
Markus Krajewski, Restlosigkeit: Weltprojekte um 1900 (2006), 64-140.
Michael D. Gordin, "The wizards of Ido," Scientific Babel (2015), 131-158.
J. Kodisowa, "Upadek materjalizmu w nauce," Przegląd filozoficzny (1898): 49-55.Elements of Physical Biology (1925).
Kendall E. Bailes, Science and Russian Culture in an Age of Revolutions: V. I. Vernadsky and His Scientific School, 1863-1945 (1990).
See Vernadsky's extensive diaries (in Russian).
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Presentation: Sunny, Timotheus
Assigned reading (pick any 2 out of 3):
Gabrielle Hecht, "Technopolitical regimes," The Radiance of France (1998), 55-90.
Sonja Schmid, Producing Power: The Pre-Chernobyl History of the Soviet Nuclear Industry (2015), 97-125.
Frank Laird, "Constructing the future: Advocating energy technologies in the Cold War," Technology and Culture 44 (2003): 27-49.
Rhodes, "The dark age to come," Energy, 307-325.
Paul Josephson, Red Atom (2000).
Eliza Gheorghe, "Atomic Maverick: Romania’s negotiations for nuclear technology, 1964–1970," Cold War History 13 (2013): 373-392.Matthias Heymann, "Signs of hubris: The shaping of wind technology styles in Germany, Denmark, and the United States, 1940-1990," Technology and Culture 39 (1998), 641-670.
Benjamin Sovacool, "The importance of open and closed styles of energy research," Social Studies of Science 40 (2010): 903-930.Single File: 1
Dipesh Chakrabarty, "The climate of history: Four theses," Critical Inquiry 35 (2009): 197-222.
Robert Emmett and Thomas Lekan, eds., Whose Anthropocene? Revisiting Dipesh Chakrabarty’s "Four Theses", RCC Perspectives (2016), including these options:
McAfee, "The politics of nature" (Pavel T., Alperen)
Eagle, "Climate change and the confluence of human and natural history" (Pavel Iu., Sunny)
Barnes, "Rifts or bridges?" (Kathrin, Tiimotheus)
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