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From Frankenstein to Einstein: Contemporary Science and Society

Code: 42286 ECTS Credits: 15
Degree Type Year Semester
4313223 History of Science: Science, History and Society OT 0 2


Xavier Roque Rodriguez

Use of Languages

Principal working language:
catalan (cat)

Other comments on languages

Llengua majoritÓria de les lectures del m˛dul.


AgustÝ Nieto Galan
Daniele Cozzoli
Jaume Sastre Juan
Miquel Carandell Baruzzi
Clara Florensa RodrÝguez
Tatiana Kasperski Tatiana
Gemma Cirac Claveras
Sergi Grau Torras


There are none.

Objectives and Contextualisation

To understand and critically analyze the role of science and technology in the configuration of contemporary society.
To identify the different forms that contemporary science has taken, considering its aims, practitioners, educational institutions.
To know the relevant literature on these issues.
To communicate orally and in writing scientific and historical arguments.


  • Analyse the multiple approaches to science's past taken by different authors and schools, and make reasoned choices between them.
  • Develop an original, interdisciplinary historical narrative that integrates humanistic and scientific culture.
  • Display a sound knowledge of history so as to pinpoint the great events of the past with accuracy: authors, theories, experiments, practices, etc., and their stages of stability and transformation.
  • Display rigorous, advanced knowledge of the evolution of science throughout history.
  • Gather and critically assess information for problem solving, in accordance with the discipline's own analysis methods and techniques.
  • Use acquired knowledge as a basis for originality in the application of ideas, often in a research context.
  • Work in interdisciplinary teams, showing leadership and initiative.
  • Work independently: solving problems, taking decisions and making innovative proposals.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Analyse in depth, from the global perspective of the module, transformative contributions such as evolution or relativity, offering an up-to-date reading in line with recent historiography.
  2. Analyse particular cases of construction of the public image of science and its cultural and symbolic value.
  3. Analyse the transformation, over the last century, of relations between experts and non-experts in the field of science, with regard to the legal and political dimension of these relations.
  4. Connect the studies and debates on contemporary science and technology to those of political, cultural, economic and environmental history.
  5. Contextualise the main historiographic debates on science and technology in the contemporary period.
  6. Discuss how the boundaries between disciplines in science are marked out and maintained and the relationship with technology and other areas of human activity, such as philosophy or literature.
  7. Distinguish the forms adopted by scientific activity throughout this period, both from the institutional and from the social and economic perspectives.
  8. Explain the most significant changes in the different branches of scientific knowledge in the contemporary period.
  9. Gather and critically assess information for problem solving, in accordance with the discipline's own analysis methods and techniques.
  10. Identify and distinguish the changes that have taken place in the last two centuries in the ways scientific knowledge is produced, especially the role of the State as a patron and protector of scientific activity.
  11. Recognise the specific contribution and role of industry and technology in the evolution of science, and vice versa.
  12. Recognise the ways in which the changes in the relations between science, the state and industry have been reflected or enacted in the public arena and in the different artistic and communicative formats.
  13. Reflect on narrative modes and the critical use of sources in the history of contemporary science and technology.
  14. Use acquired knowledge as a basis for originality in the application of ideas, often in a research context.
  15. Work in interdisciplinary teams, showing leadership and initiative.
  16. Work independently: solving problems, taking decisions and making innovative proposals.


1. Presentation. The modern origins of science
2. Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus
3. The Great Devonian Controversy
4. The Pasteurization of France
5. Science, nationalism and internationalism
6. Natural-artificial: from the laboratory to industry
7. Science and fascism (I): Mussolini to Hitler
8. Science and fascism (II): Franco
9. Marie Curie: science, medicine and industry
10. Einstein, space-time and the universe
11. Museums, technology and power
12. Science, technology and borders: “fortress Europe”
13. Science and decolonization
14. The military-industrial complex in the Cold War
15. Science, Technology and Power in the Soviet Union
16. The Shock of the Old
17. The Two Cultures
18. Fear and Fun: Nuclear Culture, Emotions and Banalization
19. Elementary particles and cosmology
20. Space sciences in the Cold War
21. In Science We (Dis)Trust
22. Technologies in use
23. Materiality of digital technologies
24. The environmental turn: Rachel Carson
25. Data, politics and climate change
26. Paleoanthropology in the public sphere
27. Life and artificial intelligence
28. Bitcoin and blockchain technology
29. Small Science
30. Conclusions


The module combines lectures in seminar format with the student autonomous, directed work (reading and analysis of texts).
The lectures will consist of an introduction by the lecturer, followed by the presentation by the students of the texts proposed for the session, and the discussion and comment of these readings.
Readings will be available on the UAB Virtual Campus.

Annotation: Within the schedule set by the centre or degree programme, 15 minutes of one class will be reserved for students to evaluate their lecturers and their courses or modules through questionnaires.


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
Lectures 93 3.72 1, 3, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14
Type: Supervised      
Supervision of essays 40 1.6 1, 3, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 15
Type: Autonomous      
Student work 241 9.64 9, 14, 16


The module will be evaluated on the basis of 4 essays addressed to different lecturers, and 1 oral presentation. The final grade will be the average of the grades obtained in the different activities.
The essays will have an extension of 1200-1500 words and will be submitted through the Campus Virtual. The essays will be evaluated and marked through the Campus Virtual.
The presentation will address the main issues of the session and be based on the suggested readings.
In order to be evaluated, all essays and presentation must be submitted. If a student does not pass one of the essays, he or she can present a revised version at the end of the module. The presentation is not to be revised. Students will obtain a “Not assessed/Not submitted” course grade unless they have submitted more than 30% of the assessment items.
In the event of a student committing any irregularity that may lead to a significant variation in the grade awarded to an assessment activity, the student will be given a zero for this activity, regardless of any disciplinary process that may take place. In the event of several irregularities in assessment activities of the same subject, the student will be given a zero as the final grade for this subject.

Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Essay 1 20% 0 0 1, 3, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 15
Essay 2 20% 0 0 1, 3, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 15
Essay 3 20% 0 0 1, 3, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 15
Essay 4 20% 0 0 1, 3, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 15
Presentation 20% 1 0.04 1, 3, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 15


Agar, Jon (2012). Science in the Twentieth Century and Beyond (Cambridge: Polity). Available online UAB.
Bijker, Wieber; Hughes, Thomas P.; Pinch, Trevor, eds. (1987). The Social Construction of Technological Systems (Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press).
Bowler, Peter; Morus, Iwan Rhys (2005). Making Modern Science (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press). Trad. cast.: Panorama general de la ciencia moderna (Barcelona: Crítica, 2007).
Collins, Harry; Pinch, Trevor (1993). The Golem. What You Should Know about Science (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Trad. cast.: El gólem. Lo que todos deberíamos saber acerca de la ciencia (Barcelona: Crítica, 1996).
Collins, Harry; Pinch, Trevor (1998). The Golem at Large. What You Should Know about Technology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
Crow, Michael; Bozeman, Barry (1998). Limited by Design: R & D Laboratories in the U.S. National Innovation System (New York: Columbia University Press).
Edgerton, David (2006). Warfare State: Britain, 1920–1970 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
Edgerton, David (2006). The Shock of the Old. Technology and Global History since 1900 (London: Profile Books). Trad. cast.: Innovación y tradición. Historia de la tecnología moderna (Barcelona: Crítica, 2007).
Epstein, Steven (2007). The Politics of Difference in Medical Research (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press).
Fara, Patricia (2009). Science. A Four Thousand Year History (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Trad. cast.: Breve historia de la ciencia (Barcelona: Ariel, 2009).
Fox, Robert; Guagnini, Anna (1998). Laboratories, workshops, and sites. Concepts and practices of research in industrial Europe, 1800–1914. Special issue (1) of Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences, 29.
Galison, Peter; Hevly, Bruce, eds. (1992). Big Science. The Growth of Large-Scale Research (Standford: Standford University Press).
Glick, Thomas F. Einstein y los españoles. Ciencia y sociedad en la España de entreguerras (Madrid: Alianza, 1996; Madrid: CSIC, 2006).
Hecht, Gabrielle (1998). The Radiance of France: Nuclear Power and National Identity after World War II (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press).
Hessenbruch, Arne, ed. (2000) Reader’s Guide to the History of Science (London/Chicago: Fitzroy Dearbor Publishers).
Harrison, Carol E.; Johnson, Ann eds. (2009). National identity. The role of science and technology. Osiris, 24.
Joerges, Bernhard; Shinn, Terry, eds. (2001). Instrumentation. Between Science, State and Industry (Dordrecht: Kluwer).
Kojevnikov, Alexei B. (2004). Stalin’s Great Science: The Times and Adventures of Soviet Physicists (London: Imperial College Press.
Krige, John (2006). American Hegemony and the Postwar Reconstruction of Science in Europe (Harvard, MA: The MIT Press).
Krige, John; Pestre, Dominique, eds. (2003). Companion to Science in the Twentieth Century (Amsterdam: Harwood).
Krige, John; Barth, Kai-Henrik eds. (2006). Global Power Knowledge. Science and Technology in International Affairs. Osiris, 21.
Latour, Bruno (1988). The Pasteurization of France. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press. Trad. de Les microbes : guerre et paix, suivi de irréductions (Paris: Editions A. M. Métailié, 1984).
Nye, Mary Jo (1996). Before Big Science. The Pursuit of Modern Chemistry and Physics 1800–1940. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).
Pestre, Dominique (2003). Science,argent et politique. Un essai d’interprétation (Paris: INRA). Trad. cat.: Ciència, diners i política (Santa Coloma de Queralt: Obrador Edèndum; Publicacions URV, 2008); trad. cast.:Ciencia, dinero y política (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Nueva Visión, 2005).
Pickstone, John V. (2000). Ways of Knowing. A New History of Science, Technology and Medicine (Manchester: Manchester University Press).
Romero de Pablos, Ana; Santesmases, María Jesús, eds. (2008). Cien años de política científica en España (Bilbao: Fundación BBVA).
Rudwick, Martin J. S. (1985). The Great Devonian Controversy. The Shaping of Scientific Knowledge among Gentlemanly Specialists (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press).
Sánchez Ron, José Manuel (2006). El poder de la ciencia. Historia social, política y económica de la ciencia, siglos XIX y XX (Barcelona: Crítica).
Schaffer, Simon (2010). Trabajos de cristal. Ensayos de historia de la ciencia, 1650–1900 (Madrid: Marcial Pons).
Shelley, Mary (1818). Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus. London: Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor & Jones. Hi ha nombroses edicions i traduccions.
Turchetti, Simone; Roberts, Peder, eds. (2014). The Surveillance Imperative. Geosciences During the Cold War and Beyond (Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan).
Wajcman, Judy (2004). Technofeminism (Cambridge: Polity). Trad. cast.: El tecnofeminismo (Madrid: Cátedra, 2006).
Walker, Mark (2003). Science and Ideology. A Comparative History (London: Routledge).


No specific software is required.