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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Bruce W Hevly
HIST 315
Seattle Campus

History of Technology to 1940

Technology since the Middle Ages, in its social and historical contexts. From the medieval foundations of metal working, its social consequences and the establishment of a class of engineering practitioners, to the transformation of American rural life, domestic technology, and industry before World War II.

Class description

This is an introductory survey course which treats the history of technology in Europe and North America since the Renaissance. In addition to providing a rough narrative overview, the course will be concerned with the ways in which historians of technology have defined the field and the problems of putting technologies into historical contexts. Among other topics, the course will deal with the development of the engineering professions, the idea of "industrial revolution," central questions of technological change (for example, invention, innovation and social construction of technology) and progress as an ideology.

Student learning goals

Students should have control of a basic narrative overview of the history of technology from the 14th century to the mid-20th in Europe and the US; a more general sense of the connections between this narrative and the case of technology in world history; and an idea of the purposes behind creating such narratives and their limitations.

Students will have the opportunity to practice integrating material from a variety of sources to make their own interpretations, presenting these in written assignments.

Students should begin to develop a sense of the ways in which contextual interpretations for technological change have been developed.

Students should begin to develop a sense of how historical understanding can play a role in discussions of the effects of technological change.

General method of instruction

Twice-weekly lectures by the instructor to the entire class; the class meets in smaller groups during at least one session a week for discussion of readings and review of lectures, writing assignments, exam preparation, etc. Instructor leads these activities.

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites.

Class assignments and grading

Lectures and discussions in class. Three examinations; two written assignments. This is a W course.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Bruce W Hevly
Date: 11/03/2010