Margaret Gaida Receives 2016-2017 Mellon/ACLS

Margaret Gaida has received notice of her successful bid for a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship.  Ms. Gaida is one of 66 recipients selected in the tenth annual competition for the award.  Funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the award provides support for research and writing in the last year of PhD dissertation writing to advanced graduate students in the humanities and related social sciences.  The ACLS Fellowship provides a total award of up to $38,000, including a stipend plus additional funds for university fees and research support.  In addition to the monetary support that the fellowship offers, Dissertation Completion Fellows are eligible to participate in a three-day seminar in the fall, preparing them for the academic job market.  Ms. Gaida is currently completing her sixth year in the History of Science graduate program and plans to complete her dissertation in Spring 2017.

Ms. Gaida's dissertation follows the historical trajectory of a single text, Alcabitius' Introduction to Astrology, from its composition in Arabic in tenth-century Aleppo, to its translation into Latin and subsequent readership in medieval and Renaissance Europe, and finally to its transformation from manuscript to print in late fifteenth-century Venice.  From this textual biography, the project develops a culturally-sensitive and situated account of the transmission of astrological knowledge from the Islamic world into the Latin West.  A close study of a selection of the Introduction and its surviving manuscripts, commentaries, and printed versions reveals a diverse group of medieval readers.  Studying these readers and their contexts reveals how astrology took shape in Europe by assimilating and adapting Islamic ideas.

Her work already has achieved an international presence as a contribution to a better understanding of the circulation of knowledge in the medieval and early modern Mediterranean.  Ms. Gaida received the Lily Auchincloss Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize in April 2014, which supported her research during 2014-2015 at the American Academy in Rome.  In addition, she was also named a 2014 Mediterranean Regional Research Fellow by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC), which funded a research trip to Istanbul, Turkey, in fall 2015.


Jackson Pope Receives 2016 George Miksch Sutton Scholarship

Jackson Pope, a second-year student in the history of science, technology and medicine graduate program, has been  awarded a 2016 George Miksch Sutton Scholarship ($2,140) from the Department of Biology to create a digital online archive of bird song records with assistance from the Fine Arts Library, the Digitization Laboratory, the Department of Biology, and the Digital Scholarship Lab. Nominated for the award by Associate Professor of History of Science Dr. Katherine Pandora, Jackson is currently researching recordings made from the 1930s-1960s by Arthur A. Allen, Albert R. Brand, and Peter Paul Kellogg of Cornell University.  Their work, along with their interactions with a network of amateur bird song recorders in the 1950s-60s, created the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s famous Library of Natural Sounds, now the largest repository of animal recordings in the world.  The archive will be available to researchers through ShareOK, and at other sites as it is developed.

Jackson completed his BA in history at Montana State University.  While there he worked as a volunteer with The Extreme History Project helping to transcribe oral histories of reservation life from Crow tribal elders as part of the Fort Parker Oral History Project.  After graduation he decided to pursue his interests in the history of science and spent a year in independent research in preparation for graduate school.  He is particularly interested in the history of amateur science and the relationships between scientists and amateurs.  In his master’s thesis, which he will defend this spring, Jackson examines the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology as a space where professional ornithologists and amateur bird watchers interacted as part of a larger community of bird watching.  He uses this analysis as a means to dismantle narratives of professionalization that separate scientists and the public.  In his free time, Jackson states he is far too fond of Lovecraft, terrible sci-fi movies, photography, and carnivorous plants.


2014 Graduate Student Research and Performance Day

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. Among those participating this year were four MA candidates from the history of science, technology and medicine graduate program, two of whom received awards for outstanding presentation. In the Education/Fine Arts/Humanities B category, Blair Stein, a second year student, received first-place recognition for her presentation “Northern Myths and Sun Destinations: The Canadair North Star at Trans Canada Air Lines, 1947-1955.” Also a second-year MA candidate, and Jared Neumann placed second in the Education/Fine Arts/Humanities B category with a presentation of his research, "The Philosophy of Victorian Induction: William Whewell and Augustus De Morgan." This is the third year that Jared has received such recognition for his research. Also presenting portions of their graduate research projects were Ashley McCray, “Money, Science, and Radical Politics: The Patronage of Harriet Martineau's Political Economy,” and Leila McNeill, “Non-linear Order: Time and Reality in 'The Garden of the Forking Paths.” Leila and Ashley are also second-year MA candidates.

Blair R. Stein
History of Science

First Place Award in Education/Fine Arts/Humanities B

Presentation Title: Northern Myths and Sun Destinations: The Canadair North Star at Trans Canada Air Lines, 1947-1955

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.

Jared M. Neumann
History of Science

Second Place Award in Education/Fine Arts/Humanities B

The Philosophy of Victorian Induction: William Whewell and Augustus De Morgan

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.

Ashley N. McCray
History of Science

Money, Science, and Radical Politics: The Patronage of Harriet Martineau's Political Economy

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
History of Science

Non-linear Order: Time and Reality in 'The Garden of the Forking Paths

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.

2013 Graduate Research Day

Sponsored by the Graduate College, Graduate College Student Ambassadors and Graduate Student Senate, the Student Research and Performance Day was held on Friday, March 8, 2013 from 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. in the National Weather Center located on OU South Campus. Research portfolios, posters, slide and video shows were judged by a panel of Norman campus faculty. In the Education/Fine Arts/Humanities B category, Jared Neumann received second-place recognition for his poster, “The Charles Kingsley and Thomas Huxley Correspondence: The Scope and Nature of Science in 1860.” This is the second consecutive year in which Jared has been recognized for his research; last year he received a Distinction in Undergraduate Research Award for his presentation, “Lullian Circles and Methodology.”

To see Jared's poster, click here.

2012 Graduate Research Day

Each year, the Graduate College sponsors Research and Performance Day, at which students from across the university present the results of their current research, paintings, photography, sculpture, video etc. through the use of portfolios, posters, slide and video shows. This year, the event was held on March 2 at the National Weather Center on OU’s South Campus. Two second-year students in the program, Margaret Gaida and Royline Williams-Fontenelle, participated by submitting posters of their MA thesis research. Margaret’s project, "Tunnel Vision: Cross-Cultural Appropriation in Medieval Optics," focuses on the optical theory of Ibn al-Haytham, whose treatise on light and vision, Kitāb al-Manāẓir‎, was translated into Latin and influenced European scholastic work on the same topics. Royline’s thesis, "To Provide Evidence of Black Ingenuity on the Antiguan Sugar Plantation, 1770 - 1841," investigates the use of traditional African agricultural technologies in Antigua between 1770 and 1841.

Royline Williams-Fontenelle
History of Science

First Place Award in Education, Fine Arts and Humanities B

To Provide Evidence of Black Ingenuity on the Island of Antigua: 1770-1841

In the second half of the 18th century the West Indies welcomed the largest number of slaves of any region during the entire slave trade (l,117,594 and 1,158,452 between 1751-1775 and 1776-1800 respectively). Because these slaves were armed with praedial and other technical skills, subsistence techniques, and formal and informal communication networks, these record breaking numbers suggest that the West Indian plantation system benefited significantly from Africa's 'brain drain' at this time. I am convinced then that an evaluation of the West Indian plantation society tells a far richer story about black ingenuity than most historians realize. By searching for instances of innovation while focusing on aspects of assimilation, creolization, and acculturation, in my research, I highlight how blacks improved upon their conditions, and even those of whites, by applying and adapting these their traditional techniques.

Margaret Gaida
History of Science

McNair Choice Award in Education, Fine Arts and Humanities A

Tunnel Vision: Cross-Cultural Appropriation in Medieval Optics

In the late 12th century, the magnum opus of the great Arab physicist and mathematician Ibn al-Haytham was translated from Arabic into Latin. This seven-volume work on optics, or the science of vision, synthesized Euclid, Ptolemy, Aristotle, Galen, and the work of Arab scientists into a coherent treatise on light, sight, and cognition. This project examines what happens to the Latin version of this text in the hands of the English friar Roger Bacon, whose own philosophical and theological agenda complicates and obscures Ibn al-Haytham's treatise on vision.