The history of emotions, a rocket taking off according to Jan Plamper, seems to be screaming ‘know thyself!’ at psychology in all its various forms, but most specifically at neuroscience. The development of a hard science of emotions has involved, with every step ‘forward’, the forgetting of the previous step.
'I am a physicist, not a historian' (p. ix). This is how Steven Weinberg, one of the most eminent scientists of our time, has chosen to begin his effort to encapsulate the historical development of the scientific method.
Between school and university I worked for a year as a lab technician in Dulwich Hospital in south London. After some months, I had developed sufficient expertise to be asked to make extra blood tests on a patient whose illness had proved impossible to diagnose.
Early in his study of radio in the USSR, Stephen Lovell quotes Rick Altman: ‘new technologies are always born nameless’ (p. 2). New technologies, that is to say, do not arrive with a self-evident purpose, and are understood initially relative to what already exists.
Much has been written about the UK’s National Health Service but as Martin Gorsky pointed out in a detailed review of its historiography published to coincide with its 60th anniversary in 2008, accounts of its past have tended to privilege traditional political narratives focused on national politics and the workings of the civil service.(1) In the case of Charles Webs
During the Second World War vital judgements had to made on how equipment, tactics and logistics could all be integrated into success on the battlefield. Scientists and engineers in the United States and Britain developed new ways of thinking in order to do this, and among them was operations research.
Randall Packard’s The Making of a Tropical Disease: A Short History of Malaria, published in 2007, was a timely overview of the history of one of the most complex and ancient of all diseases. Indeed, Packard’s sub-title: ‘a short history of malaria’ is a modest one considering the depth and breadth of the range of topics relating to the history of malaria that Packard covers.
In the late 1960s, argues Matthew Wilhelm Kapell in Exploring the Next Frontier, ‘Americanist scholars’ (p. 6) intentionally abandoned the project of analyzing American myth. He identifies three reasons why they did so.
Historians of pretty well every field and period have long acknowledged that historical enquiry cannot (indeed, must not) be limited to describing the actions and experiences of elites.
Despite the back cover declaring Lloyd Gardner’s The War on Leakers ‘the essential backstory to understand the Snowden case, NSA eavesdropping, and the future of privacy’, and its subtitle promising a study ‘from Eugene V. Debs to Edward Snowden,’ it would be inaccurate to describe this book as a historical work.