Monday, October 5, 2015 -
12:15pm to 2:00pm
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Pierce 100F, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 29 Oxford Street, Cambridge

STS Circle at Harvard

Michael Aaron Dennis, U.S. Naval War College, will discuss “Memex Takes Manhattan: Vannevar Bush's other History of the Future.”

Abstract: “As we may think,” Vannevar Bush’s summer of 1945 think piece from the Atlantic and the subsequent, illustrated version from Life are probably among Bush’s most read and discussed works. Memex, the device envisioned in each of those articles is among the most famous unbuilt machines in the history of computing, much like Babbage’s Analytical Engine.  Bush’s technological prognostication and his other visions of the future, such as his report, Science--The Endless Frontier or his plans for the international control of nuclear weapons, are seldom read together or as different aspects of a common vision. This talk wrenches Memex from the world of the imagination into the frenzied and complex world of Washington, DC in the summer and fall of 1945 when the future was very much up for grabs.

Biography: Michael Aaron Dennis is an assistant professor in the Strategy and Policy at the Naval War College in Newport, RI.  Before that he worked as an adjunct at Georgetown and George Mason Universities; even earlier he was an assistant professor in Cornell University’s Department of Science & Technology Studies.  His book A Change of State: Political Culture, Technical Practice and the Making of Cold War America remains overdue at the press.

Sandwich lunches are provided. Please RSVP to by Wednesday at 5PM the week before.

The STS Circle at Harvard is a group of doctoral students and recent PhDs who are interested in creating a space for interdisciplinary conversations about contemporary issues in science and technology that are relevant to people in fields such as anthropology, history of science, sociology, STS, law, government, public policy, and the natural sciences. We want to engage not only those who are working on intersections of science, politics, and public policy, but also those in the natural sciences, engineering, and architecture who have serious interest in exploring these areas together with social scientists and humanists.

There has been growing interest among graduate students and postdocs at Harvard in more systematic discussions related to STS. More and more dissertation writers and recent graduates find themselves working on exciting topics that intersect with STS at the edges of their respective home disciplines, and they are asking questions that often require new analytic tools that the conventional disciplines don’t necessarily offer. They would also like wider exposure to emerging STS scholarship that is not well-represented or organized at most universities, including Harvard. Our aim is to try to serve those interests through a series of activities throughout the academic year.

Contact Name: 

Shana Rabinowich

Research Areas: 

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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