Medicine, Technology, and Society

This course examines the impact of scientific and technological innovations on medicine and society. It will analyze a variety of topics, including the tension between art and science in medicine, the influence of culture and politics on medical science, as well as the social and ethical issues raised by new biomedical developments. Throughout the semester, we will work to understand some of the historical problems within the American health care system and how technology has transformed humans’ understandings of health.

Eugenics and Its Shadow

This course examines the history of eugenics and the persistence of eugenic ideas and policies in contemporary medicine and public health after World War II. The eugenics movement of the early twentieth century promoted social policies designed to “improve the human race through better breeding.” Though the term ‘eugenics’ fell out of favor after World War II, scholars have written extensively about the ways eugenic ideologies endured and evolved in a variety of arenas. Throughout this semester, we will cover topics such as educational and medical efforts to promote “fitter families” and “better babies,” the place of eugenics in popular culture, intelligence testing, immigration, compulsory sterilization, genetic testing, and genetic engineering. We will engage with the idea that eugenic ideologies and practices manifested in myriad ways, and we will explore the continuities and discontinuities with current-day genomic medicine and social justice concerns.

Superhuman Civilization

This course introduces you to the topic of human biological enhancement by exploring Western society’s interest in re-engineering basic physical and mental traits over the last two centuries. We will engage with historical concerns and imaginings about human enhancement, as well as more recent and emerging technologies. We will discuss why the desire to enhance the body has intrigued western society at various points, and how science, technology, and art have been used in this pursuit. The course is structured thematically. Every week we will take up an issue that has both historical and current resonances, and we will explore the thin dotted lines that connect the past to our present concerns and desires for human enhancement. We pay special attention to the elements of human society that were most valued at specific historical junctures, and ask what this might tell us about modern Western culture.

Darwinian Revolution

Why has evolutionary theory been such a focus of controversy in modern history? How did the name of a single individual become synonymous with a diverse collection of scientific, social, and philosophical ideas that is still expanding more than a century after his death? Can knowing the history of evolutionary theories and their uses help us to understand and engage in present day conversations about politics, education, and religion? Is there an inherent conflict between science and religion? These are the questions that will animate us this semester. Specific topics include the intellectual structure and social context of evolutionary ideas from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries; distinctions between Darwin’s and other theories of evolution, and between Darwin’s work and the broader phenomenon of Darwinism; the comparative reception of Darwinism in a range of national and cultural contexts; social Darwinism, eugenics, and racial theories; and genetics and modern evolutionary biology, including evolutionary psychology.

History Workshop: Historiography and Methods

This course examines recent approaches of studying the past. Throughout this course, students will interrogate the actions, processes, and ways of thinking that historians use to study and produce history. To do this, we will examine recent scholarship that has made significant contributions to the field of history. We will ask a series of questions to understand the study of history, including:

  • How have historians conceived of their object(s) of study and structured the narrative and analytical discussion of their topic?
  • How are sources gathered and used in historical writing?
  • How do historians disseminate information, and what are the audiences for those venues?
  • What are the ethical issues related to historical research, writing, and presentation?

Mind in the Machine

As technology has grown to play a more prominent role in everyday life, the tension between nature and technology has appeared in a wide variety of literature, film, and other cultural artifacts. Since the Industrial Revolution, fictional mechanical men, robots, and other automata have enraptured audiences in the Western world. Using works such as Metropolis, R.U.R., Battlestar Galactica, and stories by Isaac Asimov, we will look at how the automata represent the feelings towards the increased mechanization of society and individuals at critical points in the twentieth century. In particular, we will explore how automata simultaneously reflect both the love of technology and the fear of losing what it means to be human in an increasingly mechanical world.


Interdisciplinary Writing

This course is designed to support MHS graduate students as they develop and write a thesis, practicum project, or other capstone project. We will study how academic conversations happen in writing by focusing on how genres function in multiple disciplines. We will focus on medium, message, and audience. We will adapt genres to fulfill our own writing purposes and meet the needs of a variety of readers. Throughout the semester, students will work in small writing groups to share writing, both formally and informally. Together, we will explore the everyday challenges of writing and develop strategies to overcome those challenges.

Writing and Presentation

This course is designed to support MHS graduate students as they write and defend a thesis. We examine thesis and article models to better understand the conventions of writing about original research and learn to adapt those conventions to each individual research project. Throughout the semester, students will share and critique writing, both formally and informally. By the end of the semester, students will have presented their projects at a venue of their choosing.

Certificate in College Teaching

This two part sequence (seminar and practicum) prepared graduate students and postdoctoral scholars for future careers in higher education teaching.

For more information on the program, visit https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/programs/cict/

Other Teaching

Teaching Assistant

  • Advancing Learning Through Evidence-Based STEM Teaching (edX; Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)) (Summer 2016)
  • Blended and Online Learning Design (BOLD) Seminar, Dr. Cynthia Brame, Vanderbilt University (Spring 2016, Fall 2015) (Graduate Course)
  • Superhuman Civilization, Dr. Michael Bess, Vanderbilt University (Spring 2014)
  • World War II, Dr. Michael Bess, Vanderbilt University (Fall 2013)
  • England and Ireland since 1800, Dr. Stewart Weaver, University of Rochester (Spring 2011)
  • Hitler’s Germany, 1914-1945, Dr. Celia Applegate, University of Rochester (Fall 2010)
  • Cognitive Psychology, Rollins College (Fall 2007)

Workshops (for graduate students and faculty), Vanderbilt University

  • Python for Digital Humanists Working Group (Spring 2018) (Faculty and Graduate students)
  • Digital Timelines Working Group (Fall 2015, Spring 2016) (Faculty and Graduate students)
  • Crafting Teaching Statements for the Academic Job Market (Fall 2015, Spring 2016) (Graduate)
  • Inclusive Teaching in the College Classroom (Fall 2015) (Graduate students)
  • Digital Grading (Spring 2015) (Graduate students)

Invited Lectures (undergraduate)

  • Fall 2014, “Writing about Ciphers Online (Seminar),” Cryptography, Vanderbilt University
  • Spring 2013, Work and Industry (two seminars), Weimar Germany, Vanderbilt University
  • Fall 2012, “Government Funding for Science and Technology (Lecture),” Intro to American Politics, Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Fall 2011, “New Face of Anti-Semitism (Seminar),” Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict, University of Rochester
  • Fall 2011, “Decolonization: The End of the British Empire (Lecture),” Europe since 1945, University of Rochester

Other Teaching Roles

  • Teaching Affiliate, 2016-2017, 2013-2014, Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University
  • Senior Graduate Fellow, 2015-2016, Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University
  • Graduate Teaching Fellow, 2014-2015, Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University
  • Private Instructor, Advanced Placement (AP) and NYS Regents United States History and Government (2010-2011)
  • Private Instructor, Advanced Placement (AP) and NYS Regents European History (2009-2010)
  •  History and Psychology Tutor, Rollins College (2007-2008)