This course will consider the interaction between technology and civilization from ancient times to the present day, with approximately half the course focusing on the 20th century. We will look at the political, economic, military and social implications of technological developments, starting with international examples, and moving towards North American cases as we approach the 20th century. There will be major components on medieval technology, the industrial revolution, 19th century technology, and technology and war. Nuclear technology will be a major component of our 20th century discussion. Two themes will shape our analysis of technology throughout the course, the question of technological determinism, and the relationship between technology and the state.
Course Instructor: Ian Slater
The class meets from 7-10pm. There will be two 50 minute lectures, from 7-7:50, and from 8-8:50. From 9-9:50 there will be an open discussion period, where students can ask questions about the lectures or readings, and I will ask questions as well.
1st Assignment: 10% Oct 20
2nd Assignment: 15% January 12
Mid-Term: 30% Dec 1
3rd Assignment 15% March 8
Final Exam: 30%
Assignment 1 – Technology in Early Civilization – Due Oct 20
Compare the relationship between economics and technology in the hydraulic civilizations and in the Middle East in the 5th century. Be sure to state in which case the relationship between the two was the strongest, and why.
2 pages, 10%
Assignment 2 - Medieval Technology – Due Jan 12th
Compare the impact of any two of the following Medieval developments we discussed:
The impact of clocks on labor
The impact of the printing press on knowledge
The impact of gunpowder on conflict
Make sure to state which of the two had a greater overall impact, and why.
2-3 pages, 15%
Assignment 3 – Technology and Modern Warfare – Due March 8
Warfare has existed since the beginning of civilization, and technology has always been a part of it. Some historians have claimed that modern technology has fundamentally altered the nature of warfare in the 20th century. Argue for or against this claim, using examples from the course.