Sponsored by the Graduate College, along with Graduate College Student Ambassadors and McNair Scholars, 2014 Graduate Student Research and Performance Day was held Friday, March 7. The History of Science Department is proud to have had five MA candidates participate in Research and Performance Day this year.
Among the 75+ graduate students presenting their research from across campus and across disciplines, there were four HSCI MA students, Ashley McCray, Leila McNeill, Jared Neumann, and Blair Stein. Moreover, Blair and Jared were among 22 who received awards for outstanding presentation. In Education/Fine Arts/Humanities B, Blair and Jared placed first and second, respectively. Our fifth HSCI participant was not a presenter. MA candidate James Burnes, as a research assistant and student programs specialist in the Graduate College, was charged with coordinating the registrants, assigning and assisting in setting up display space, and locating judges and working with them during the event. As the event coordinator, James was not able to submit a presentation of his work. We are proud of all of you and appreciate your participation and willingness to serve the campus community, and we offer special congratulations to Blair and Jared on their awards.
James M. Burnes, HSCI MA Candidate
Research Interest: “My thesis is on the history of paleoanthropology, the AMNH’s reaction to the Piltdown man discovery, and how it may have encouraged (spurred) Henry Fairfield Osborn and Roy Chapman Andrews to undertake the Central Asiatic Expeditions. It also is evidence of the shift from drawing room science towards a more field based scientific inquiry.”
Graduate College Coordinator for 2014 Graduate Research and Performance Day
Ashley N. McCray, HSCI MA Candidate
Research Interest: “My current project deals with the patronage of the political economist Harriet Martineau, whose career enables me to demonstrate the interconnectedness between money, science, and politics in early nineteenth century Britain. In this period, political economy (known then as the "science of wealth") was often used to justify the rampant socioeconomic inequality brought about by the emergence of industrial capitalism and laissez faire ideology.”
Presentation Title: Money, Science, and Radical Politics: The Patronage of Harriet Martineau's Political Economy
Abstract: Political economist Harriet Martineau (1802-76) rose to literary fame thanks to the patronage of Lord Brougham, who commissioned a series of pamphlets by the author. Although political economy was no longer considered “science” by the end of the nineteenth century, it maintained a central role in social relations during the apex of Martineau’s career. In particular, it was Martineau’s political economy that informed British politics and paved the way for the 1834 New Poor Law Amendment, legislation that permanently changed class dynamics in Britain. For this reason, Martineau’s patronage networks reveal how the development, popularization, and ultimate success of a certain moral view of political economy helped shape the social milieu of early nineteenth-century England.
Leila A. McNeill, HSCI MA Candidate
Research Interest: “For my research, I am interested in the fluidity of boundaries between literature, science, and culture. More specifically, I am interested in how literature and popularizations of science written by women reflect a unique understanding of science as a group of people marginalized from professional scientific circles.”
Presentation Title: Non-linear Order: Time and Reality in 'The Garden of the Forking Paths
Abstract: In the short story “The Garden of the Forking Paths,” Jorge Borges conceives of time as a chaotic network of infinite convergences and divergences that embrace all possible futures. In the story, a man named Ts'ui Pên writes a book that people believe to be unfinished drafts because it has no definite ending as the characters are shown to act out a different narrative in each draft. However, another character, Stephen Albert, interprets the book differently and discovers that the book is complete as a labyrinth of future possibilities for each character of Ts'ui Pên’s work. By viewing the individual linear narratives separately, Ts'ui Pên’s book seems like a chaotic display of random storylines, but once these individual parts are observed together, an emergent order surfaces—that emergent order is time. I suggest that Borges uses the literary form of the novel and the image of the garden to portray time as a chaotic system, and I show that Borges defies a simplistic progression of linear time, which is usually viewed as a sequence of events subject to time measurements (days, months, years). Rather, he creates time as an infinite and indeterminate system of qualitative experiences and choices not subject to such measurements.
Jared M. Neumann, HSCI MA Candidate
Research Interest: “My primary research focus is on mathematics, logic, and philosophy of science generally, but my current focus is on 19th-century Britain. I am most interested in logical methods of scientific discovery.”
Second Place, Education/Fine Arts/Humanities B
Presentation Title: The Philosophy of Victorian Induction: William Whewell and Augustus De Morgan
Abstract: William Whewell was a prominent philosopher of science who took on Francis Bacon's philosophy as a life-long project. Although Whewell's induction differed from Bacon's, it was a continuation of a scientific tradition distinct from what we now call logic. Augustus De Morgan, however, is renowned today for his influence on the development of modern logic. He transformed logical induction into something Whewell had to contend with. De Morgan, one of Whewell's students, eventually forced him to change his own philosophical terminology to accommodate the new logic. While there was once a taboo on the application of logical techniques in science, De Morgan, among other contemporary and subsequent logicians, made the applications increasingly obvious.
Blair R. Stein, HSCI MA Candidate
Research Interest: "My research focus is the intersection between environment, technology, and culture, especially in terms of aviation in Canada."
First Place, Education/Fine Arts/Humanities B
Presentation Title: Northern Myths and Sun Destinations: The Canadair North Star at Trans Canada Air Lines, 1947-1955
Abstract: Trans Canada Air Lines' (now Air Canada) first post-WWII airliner, the Canadair DC4-M2 "North Star," featured a number of wartime technological spinoffs. I will show how TCA's advertising and promotional material featuring the North Star mobilized the cultural relationship Canadians have had with their cold climate: what I call "cultural nordicity.” Historically, this manifests itself in a sort of ambivalence; imagined northernness was a source of Canadian pride, but also created a perceived barrier to mobility. Therefore, fear of wintertime flying was believed to prevent Canadians from taking full advantage of air travel. Two advertising strategies - focusing on "all-weather flying" technologies that appeared to eliminate the hazards of winter and introducing "sun destinations" to encourage escape from wintertime - show how TCA used "cultural nordicity" as a tool to affect the travel habits of Canadians.
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