In the academic year 2016/2017, Christian Forstner, Johannes-Geert Hagmann and Peter Heering started a course Material Culture in the History of Physics. This course addressed historians of science, museum staff and future physics teachers on the master and early graduate level. In this course, the students were introduced to object oriented research, material culture studies and experimental history of science. The course consisted in three phases: it started with an online seminar where the participants worked with introductory texts to as well as case studies from the three fields. The second part was a seminar at the Deutsches Museum Munich where the participants had the opportunity to intensify and reflect the topics from the first part with practical activities. At the end of the second part, the participants had some time to apply their competences on an object from the museum’s collection. This led directly into the third part; the students had to prepare an essay on the object they had analyzed. This essay served at the same time as the examination assignment.
This first course turned out to be very successful at least on three levels: The feedback of the participants, the satisfaction of the organizers, and the outcome in form of the essays. As a result, a slightly expanded course was offered in the following year, this time addressing an international participation and therefore in English language. Moreover, Richard Kremer fortunately agreed to participate in teaching this course.
Due to the quality of some essays from the first year, we decided to make them accessible to the public by offering the students the opportunity to publish their essays online. For this purpose, besides grading the essays, those which were submitted were also peer reviewed. As a result of this process, six papers from the second year (plus two from the first year) were accepted for publication. These papers are found on this website.
If you want to refer to one of these papers, use a reference such as: [Author Name], [Title]; Preprint from the Workshop "Material Culture in the History of Physics, Deutsches Museum Munich", [link] [accessed]
The seminar Material Culture in the History of Physics was generously supported by the Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation.
The following essays are available for download:
Bauer, Agnes - Die Galton-Pfeife
Bispo da Silva, Ana Paula - Contributions of material culture studies to scientific instruments. A possible biography to a Camera Lucida
Grimm, Andrea Nicola - Objektbiografie. Atwoodsche Fallmaschine Inventarnummer 775
Hartung, Lara - Die Atwoodsche Fallmaschine von Wisenpaintner. Inventarnummer 775
Kleemann, Navina - 6000 Dollar für einen Computer - Der HP Calculator 9830A und der Card Reader 9869A an der Gesamtschule Marktoberdorf
Mercier, Michelle - Das Greenough-Stereomikroskop 57163. Eine Objektbiografie
Schröter, Lisa - Objektbiografie. Die Fallmaschine nach Georg Atwood von Johann Anton Wisenpainter
Teixeira, Miguel - Material Culture in the History of Physics. The case of a He-Ne Laser