Home / Events / Steven Shapin, "How Davis Taught the World to Talk Sense about Wine"

Steven Shapin, "How Davis Taught the World to Talk Sense about Wine"

When Feb 10, 2015
from 04:10 PM to 06:00 PM
Where 2203 SS&H (Andrews Conference Room)
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A lot of nonsense is now, and always has been, talked about the taste and odor of wine. Although much 19th-century research in chemistry dealt with the major constituents of wine and, to some extent, their bearing on taste, little was securely understood about odor until the middle of the 20th century, and work done in the UC Davis Department of Enology and Viticulture was of central importance to developing knowledge of the material bases of aroma and bouquet. At the same time, Davis researchers proposed a reform of language, intending that the order of words would reflect the order of vinous things and of authentic vinous sensations. These materials are worth thinking about in connection with the role of modern science in the simultaneous manufacture of objectivity and subjectivity.

Steven Shapin is Franklin L. Ford Research Professor of the History of Science, joining Harvard in 2004 after previous appointments as Professor of Sociology at the University of California, San Diego, and at the Science Studies Unit, Edinburgh University. His books include Leviathan and the Air- Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life (Princeton University Press, 1985 [new ed. 2011]; with Simon Schaffer), A Social History of Truth: Civility and Science in Seventeenth-Century England (University of Chicago Press, 1994), The Scientific Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 1996; now translated into 16 languages), Wetenschap is cultuur (Science is Culture) (Amsterdam: Balans, 2005; with Simon Schaffer), The Scientific Life: A Moral History of a Late Modern Vocation (University of Chicago Press, 2008), Never Pure: Historical Studies of Science as if It Was Produced by People with Bodies, Situated in Time, Space, Culture and Society, and Struggling for Credibility and Authority (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), and several edited books.

He has published widely in the historical sociology of scientific knowledge, and his current research interests include historical and contemporary studies of dietetics, the changing languages and practices of taste, the nature of entrepreneurial science, and modern relations between academia and industry. He writes regularly for the London Review of Books and has written for The New Yorker. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and his awards include the J. D. Bernal Prize of the Society for Social Studies of Science (for career contributions to the field), the Ludwik Fleck Prize of 4S and the Robert K. Merton Prize of the American Sociological Association (for A Social History of Truth), the Herbert Dingle Prize of the British Society for the History of Science (for The Scientific Revolution), a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. With Simon Schaffer, he was the 2005 winner of the Erasmus Prize, conferred by HRH the Prince of Orange of the Netherlands, for contributions to European culture, society, or social science. In 2014, he received the Sarton Medal, the highest honor of the History of Science Society, in recognition of a "lifetime of scholarly achievement."

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