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HISTORY 136: THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION

UC Davis, Winter 2017, Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:403:00, Hickey Gym 290
Prof. Daniel Stolzenberg
Email: dstolz@ucdavis.edu
Office: 3235 Social Sciences/Humanities
Office Hours: Tuesday 10-12 and by appointment
TOPIC & OBJECTIVES
What does it mean to understand nature in modernand pre-modernways? Today we
take for granted that science involves mathematical laws, experimentation, discovering
new phenomena, and the creation of technologies that provide power over nature.
None of these was true about European natural science in 1500. All had become widely
accepted by 1700. This class treats the transformation of European ideas about nature,
knowledge, and technology during the age of Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes, and
Newton. We will explore the intellectual culture of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries, looking closely at source materials from this period, and examine issues such
as scientific methodologies, instruments and experimentation, religion, and the control
of nature. Topics include astronomy, physics, chemistry/alchemy, natural magic,
medicine, and natural history. The readings and lectures are designed to provide the
basis for students to think critically about these issues, which will form the basis for
written assignments and in-class discussion.
This course has the following principal learning goals:

Students will gain knowledge of the methods, goals, and practices of the
study of nature in Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Students will practice one of the key skills of historians of science: taking
seriously ideas and practices that seem to defy (contemporary) common
sense, understanding why such ideas and practices were once compelling and
why they ceased to be.
Students will gain deeper understanding of contemporary science and
technology by thinking rigorously about the similarities and differences
between modern science and the ways of studying nature that emerged
between 1500 and 1700.
Students will learn to read difficult texts productively, developing critical
analysis and reasoning skills.

Students will gain writing experience.

This course satisfies GE requirements for AH (Arts & Hum), SS (Soc Sci), WE and WC
(World Culture).
COURSE REQUIREMENTS & POLICIES
Grading: Online Discussion (25%); Online Quizzes (25%); Midterm (25%); Take-Home
Final Exam (25%). Understanding your grade: A = excellent; B = good; C = fair; D =
minimally acceptable; F = unacceptable.
Understanding your grade: A = excellent; B = good; C = fair; D = minimally
acceptable; F = unacceptable.
Required Texts: Peter Dear, Revolutionizing the Sciences: European Knowledge and
Its Ambitions, 15001700, 2nd ed. (Princeton, 2009) is available at the campus
bookstore. Feel free to buy the book elsewhere but be sure to get the 2nd edition. All
other primary and secondary sources will be made available as PDFs on Canvas. You
may also purchase them on-demand as a reader from Copyland at 231 G Street. (Call
ahead to make sure your copy is ready: 530-756-2679.)
Preparing for Class: Readings should be completed prior to the lecture for which they
are assigned. Please bring the assigned primary sources for the week to class.
Attendance at all lectures is required. The readings for this class are mostly primary
sources, and their significance for this class cannot be grasped without the context
provided by the lectures. I recommend that you either procure the reader or print-out
hardcopies of the texts. This makes it easier to mark up the texts and to consult them
in class. For further details see the Guidelines for Discussion Posting.
Online Discussion: Every week, students must post responses to questions about the
readings on a discussion thread and respond to other students posts. The aim of the
online discussions is to engage the assigned readings activelyeven when they are
difficult to fully understandand thus get the most out of the class meetings. It is
essential to read the Guidelines for Discussion Posts. If you wish, you may revise up to
half of these and submit them for a new grade.
Posts are due at 10 PM the day before class. This gives everyone time to read other
students posts before class. Late posts will be marked down one letter grade. At least
one comment on another student's post is due at 1:30 PM on the day of class. Students
can leave additional comments later (and these will be taken into account for the
dialogue portion of the grade.)
Extra Credit: Student may create their own online discussion threads. Students will
receive extra credit for creating discussion topics and participating in those created by
other students. These can be linked to material (news stories, images, videos, etc.)
beyond course materials.I may also post my own extra credit topics. Credit will be
awarded based on my subjective judgement of how interesting, thoughtful, creative,
fun, engaging, etc. are the contributions to these discussions.
Email and Canvas: Important information about class will be distributed by email via
Canvas. Check yours regularly. If you are not receiving announcements or do not have

access to Canvas (this sometimes happens at the beginning of the quarter due to
registration issues) notify me immediately.
Office Hours: If you cannot come to my regular office hours I will do my best to
schedule an appointment at another time.
Computers in class: If you wish to use a computer or tablet, please sit in the first two
rows. These devices should only be used for taking class notes or consulting readings,
not for Facebook or doing biology homework. If you are bored, please doodle discretely
in the margins of a sheet of paper, the way God intended.
Quizzes: Once a week, students must take a short online quiz. The questions will
primarily focus on critical analysis and reasoning skills as applied to primary and
secondary sources.
Exams: The midterm will be in class. The final will be a take-home exam. The format of
the exams will be discussed later in the quarter.
Late and Incomplete Work: See above for the policy on discussion assignments.
Extensions, makeup exams, and incompletes will only be granted in exceptional
circumstances (such as serious illness testified by a physicians letter) and you must
contact me beforehand. If an emergency makes it impossible to contact me
beforehand, you must contact me as soon as possible.
Academic Honesty: In accordance with the UC Davis Code of Academic Conduct:

Know what plagiarism is and take steps to avoid it. When using the words or
ideas of another, even if paraphrased in your own words, you must cite your
source. Students who are confused about whether a particular act constitutes
plagiarism should consult the instructor who gave the assignment.
Do not submit the same work in more than one class. Unless otherwise
specified by the instructor, all work submitted to fulfill course requirements
must be work done by the student specifically for that course. This means
that work submitted for one course cannot be used to satisfy requirements of
another course unless the student obtains permission from the instructor.
If there is any suspicion of plagiarism or other academic misconduct, cases
will be referred to the office of Student Judicial Affairs.

For more information about avoiding plagiarism, read this.

SCHEDULE OF LECTURES & READINGS


Readings are to be completed before the class for which they are assigned. The schedule of
readings may be modified during the quarter.
WEEK 1
January 10: Before the Revolution: The Nature of Nature in 1500
January 12: The Aristotelian Cosmos
Read: Dear, 118, Aristotle, selections from On the Heavens
Assignment: Quiz
WEEK 2
3

January 17: What was Natural Philosophy?


Read: Aristotle, selections from Physics and Posterior Analytics
Assignment: Discussion 1
January 19: Saving the Phenomenon: Ptolemaic Astronomy
Read: Dear 1846, Ptolemy
Assignment: Quiz
WEEK 3
January 24: Copernicus and Renaissance Science
Read: Copernicus
View: http://archive.nlm.nih.gov/proj/ttp/flash/vesalius/vesalius.html
Assignment: Discussion 2
January 26: The Astronomical Revolution 1: Tycho and Kepler
Read: Dear, 6478, 99106, Kepler
Assignment: Quiz
WEEK 4
January 31: Galileo: A New Physics for a New Astronomy
Read: Galileo, selections from Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems
Assignment: Discussion
February 2: Natural Magic and the Secrets of Nature
Read: Dear, 4755, Della Porta
Assignment: Quiz
WEEK 5
February 7: Art, Nature, and the Chymical Revolution
Read: Paracelsus
Assignment: Discussion
February 9: The Science of Particulars: Natural History
Read: Dear, 5563, 120126, Bacon, Sylva Sylvarum
View: http://archive.nlm.nih.gov/proj/ttp/flash/gesner/gesner.html
Assignment: Quiz
WEEK 6
February 14: How to Destroy Idols: Francis Bacons Program to Reform Natural Philosophy
Read: Bacon, New Atlantis (1626)
Assignment: Discussion
February 16: MIDTERM EXAM
WEEK 7
February 21: Science and Religion Before and After the Galileo Affair
Read: Galileo, Bellarmine
Assignment: Discussion
February 23: Descartes and the Mechanical Philosophy
Read: Dear, 7998, Descartes
Assignment: Quiz
4

WEEK 8
February 28: Cartesianism and Its Critics
Read: Dear, 145153
Assignment: Discussion
March 2: Instruments and Experimental Philosophy
Read: Dear 106144, Boyle
Assignment: Quiz
WEEK 9
March 7: Manufacturing Facts in Restoration England
Read: Hooke
Assignment: Discussion
March 9: Let Newton Be!
Read: Dear, 154160, Newton
Assignment: Quiz
WEEK 10
March 14: The Newton Wars
Read: Dear, 160166, Clarke-Leibniz Correspondence; Cotes
Assignment: Discussion
March 16: The Nature of Nature in 1700: What Was the Scientific Revolution?
Optional: Revised Discussion Posts Due