digitalculturesnews Fwd: icis REMINDER: May 13: Alex Csiszar on “The Scientific Journal: A Political History”


Please join us for Alex Csiszar (Harvard University) speaking on "The Scientific Journal: A Political History"

Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
2nd Floor Instruction Room, Shields Library

Lunch will be served – Please RSVP at this link if you plan to attend

Scientific journals are expected to do a lot of different things. They are often identified with both the cumulative and the present state of knowledge possessed by scientific communities. Journals are supposed to be public enough that any interested reader might access them; yet at the same time they are rigorously exclusive. To publish in a particular set of journals is to be deemed an expert in the corresponding scientific field. When questions arise as to what scientific consensus is on some matter of concern, governmental bodies, the public, and journalists routinely look to the reputable journal literature dealing with that subject. The list of a researcher’s papers is a unit by which careers are measured and a dominant factor in decisions about hiring, tenure, and grants. Scientific journals are both permanent archive and breaking news, both complete record and painstaking selection, both public forum and the esoteric domain of experts.

This talk will explore how and why this improbable state of affairs came into being over the course of the nineteenth century. The shift whereby the authority of science came to be vested increasingly in serialized print did not come about through any deliberate decision taken by scientists based on the fitness of the periodical press to play this role. Far from emerging out of a timeless need for a secure communications medium and format, the ascendancy of the scientific journal occurred as European scientific elites sought to establish their collective legitimacy to speak authoritatively about nature following the political upheavals of the Napoleonic Wars. Since that time, the scientific journal has been a nodal point where expert cultures of credibility have intersected, uneasily, with public criteria of accountability.

Alex Csiszar is an Assistant Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University. His research concerns the history of scientific authorship, publishing, refereeing practices, and information management from the French Revolution to the twentieth century.



May 21, "Art of the Archive"

A one-day workshop that will examine the digital archive and database in terms of the aesthetics and politics of curation. We will bring together perspectives from the humanities, arts, and social sciences to address the challenges and possibilities for an emerging art of the archive.



June 10, "The Social Life of Medical Data"

A one-day workshop on the biographies and social histories of digitized medical data. We will focus especially on emerging forms of collective action organized around data sharing and pooling. We will move back and forth between the worlds of patients and activists and those of institutions and corporations to help illuminate how digital flows shape the politics of health and illness in our digital era.


Innovating Communication in Scholarship
University of California, Davis