Brown Bag Lecture: “Engineers’ Class Struggle and the Question of ‘Technology’ in German and American High Industrialism”

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Date: October 23, 2012
Time: 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.

315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Event Type: Open to the Public
Fee: Free
RSVP Online: No Registration Required

A talk by Heidi Voskuhl

Heidi Voskuhl’s talk is concerned with the earliest sustained debates about the “consequences” of technology in society, carried out among and between engineers in Germany and the United States in the period around World War I. Engineers raised questions about the relationship between industrialism and the state, technocracy and democracy, and global technological and diplomatic rivalries—but also about their own social status and ethical obligations as a novel expert group in the fast-growing industrial world. Working through a range of social and technical challenges, German and American engineers turned to each other and traded ideas, artifacts, skills, and financial and ideological support across the Atlantic. Their discussions represent the earliest moments of engineers’ active political participation, and they are a prototype of later debates about the abstract and often hazy idea of the “impact” of modern technology on social orders.

Heidi Voskuhl is an associate professor in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University, where she teaches and researches the history of technology from the early modern to the modern period. She received her Ph.D. in science and technology studies from Cornell University. Her other interests include the philosophy of technology, intellectual history, and theories of literature and culture. At Harvard she also serves on the Degree Committee on Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

About Brown Bag Lectures

Brown Bag Lectures (BBLs) are a series of weekly informal talks on the history of chemistry or related subjects, including the history and social studies of science, technology, and medicine. Based on original research (sometimes still in progress), these talks are given by local scholars for an audience of CHF staff and fellows and interested members of the public.

For more information, please call 215.873.8289 or e-mail

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