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Critical Intersections: Conversations on History, Race, and Science

Friday, April 29, 2022
1:00pm to 3:00pm
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Organisms in the University
Bradley Bolman, Historian of Science, University of Chicago,
Victoria Lee, History Assistant Professor, Ohio University,

As a matter of routine, humans tend to view themselves as the protagonists of university life. Yet universities are also home to a plethora of nonhuman life forms. While this latter group comprises everything from ornamental plants to opportunistic rodents, research organisms occupy a particularly fascinating niche within university ecology. What can we learn about the nature of universities and other knowledge institutions by paying attention to the lives of standardized laboratory animals or cultivated microbial strains? How did these living things come to serve the purposes of researchers? How have they sustained or confounded different research agendas? What connections between university research and other domains of modern culture become visible through the biographies of these organisms?

Join Professor Victoria Lee of the History Department of Ohio University and Brad Bolman of the Institute on the Formation of Knowledge at the University of Chicago for a conversation on research organisms and science in and beyond the university.

Victoria Lee is a historian of modern science and technology, with a focus on the role of Japan in the 20th and 21st centuries. Her book, The Arts of the Microbial World: Fermentation Science in Twentieth-Century Japan, published last year by University of Chicago Press, looks at Japanese society's engagement with microbes in science, industry and environmental management. 

Brad Bolman is a historian of the life sciences, focused on organisms and capitalism in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. His first book, The Dog Years: A History of Beagle Science, to be published by University of Chicago Press, traces the emergence of the beagle dog as an experimental subject in eugenics, radiobiology, tobacco research, pharmacology, and neuroscience.

Registration required. To RSVP, please click here.

For more information, please contact Cecilia Lu by phone at 626-395-1724 or by email at [email protected].