The History of Science and Medicine Minor at Bruinopolis

When I got to taking classes full-time at Westwood, I was heavily under the influence of this class I took at UC-Santa Cruz called "Science as Cultural Practice." It was stashed in a department called the History of Consciousness.

History in the History of Consciousness program wasn't really history in the sense of establishing dates, names, accomplishments, we just went over different topics over different time periods and more remarkably across different borders and regions.

Our reading material included a random assortment of the Rule of Experts, Maps, Tricksters, and Cartographers, and Twice Dead. The topics: the artificiality inherent in cartography and the construction of maps, brain death, the masculinity embodied within the sciences.

I was 18. Technically, the language was English, but fuck if I understood most of what my professor, my TA, or my books were saying.

Still, I knew that it was very fascinating stuff. Science six years ago and science today occupies the reverence religion seemed to have in the medieval ages. In sum, no laypeople, mere civilians, homies on the block, dare question its validities, its institutional power. Scientific findings work for our purposes, namely creating new technologies. People study hard to become scientists and we laypeople, civilians, homies are in no position to challenge their opinions.

What we were doing in this class was reversing that tide (if only temporarily and in one microfractioned space of the world). We were exposing all the artificiality, the emotions, the politics inherent within science. We were exposing the human, error-laiden side of science, that which is often ignored in popular discourse.

When I got to da school, I wanted more of that type of book-learnin' and analysis.

The closest I could find to that experience was the history of science located in UCLA's history department. Without hesitation, I took up the history of science and medicine minor.

Save for my one class called Social Knowledge and Power, appropriately enough taught by a UC-Santa Cruz History of Consciousness Ph.D., we actually talked about...the History of Science and Medicine. The history of Western science and medicine.

So, it wasn't the history of the history of consciousness. It was history of businesses and patents acting as the infrastructure to white guy creativity and geniusness. It was the history of John Snow, Conrad Roentgen, Andreas Vesalius, William James. It was history of Isaac Newton, Antoine Lavoisier, Lamarck, Chuck Lyell, Chucky Darwin. Most of these topics were the classes that sunk my GPA.

A lot of this pretty interesting in their own right, but if you're really into dead white guys, their rationality, their objectivity, and the great things they accomplished in technological history, this department is quite possibly your calling in life. Not mine.

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