Statement of


Associate Professor, Department of History

   [Bert Hansen]

Participation in Baruch College's inter-disciplinary faculty development project on "Darwin and Darwinism" has been an eye-opening experience for me as an historian of science and medicine. The opportunity to discuss the intellectual aspects of topics that are central to my discipline with interested and committed colleagues in a wide range of fields has been gratifying. Too rarely on college campuses does a faculty member meet with colleagues outside his or her own department for engaged intellectual interchange, rather than for committee meetings with administrative purposes. The conversations and seminar meetings have provided me with insights, questions, and new interests to complement the studies I had undertaken over the years both for teaching and my own learning.

My first professional publication, in 1970, concerned the introduction of glacial theory into British geology, a story in which the young Charles Darwin made a significant appearance. Since the 1970s I have taught courses on Darwin and Darwinism at several universities. Further, evolutionary theory is a major segment in the survey courses I have offered on the history of science. Darwinism plays a far smaller role in my course on the history of health care in America since 1800, but many of the same issues shape my understanding of and teaching about the revolutionary innovations in bacteriology and animal physiology of the late nineteenth century. Darwinism is also a major episode with respect to the examination of science in the popular media that forms a central theme of my recent research and publications on nineteenth-century medical breakthroughs.

The History Department of the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences at Baruch has a long-standing commitment to intellectual history and to the historical study of health and welfare issues, with a number of faculty members teaching a range of courses in these areas. In the spring term of 1999, I expect to be adding a new upper-level undergraduate course on the history of science and technology. In this courses, where we anticipate enrollment from students with majors in business, natural science, history, and other subjects, I hope to be able to re-create the kinds of exciting cross-disciplinary ferment among students that the Darwin project first fostered among faculty members in our seminar and then disseminated more widely through the College's Charles Feit undergraduate seminars and other courses.

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS by Bert Hansen on aspects of science in culture (chronological order):

  • "The Early History of Glacial Theory in British Geology," The Journal of Glaciology 9 (1970), 135-141.

  • "Medical Education in New York City in 1866-1867: A Student's Notebook of Professor Budd's Lectures on Obstetrics at New York University," in two parts, New York State Journal of Medicine 85, No. 8 (August 1985), 488-498, and No. 9 (September 1985), 548-559. This article was honored with the Laurance D. Redway Annual Award For Excellence in Medical Writing by the Medical Society of the State of New York in 1986.

  • "The Complementarity of Science and Magic Before the Scientific Revolution," American Scientist (March 1986), pp. 128-136. This article was reprinted in Good Writing: A Guide and Sourcebook for Writing Across the Curriculum by Linda Simon (St. Martin's Press, 1988), pp. 278-296, as a exemplary expository essay.

  • "La réponse américaine à la victoire de Pasteur contra la rage: Quand la médecine fait pour la première fois la `une'," in L'Institut Pasteur: Contributions à son histoire ed. Michel Morange (Paris: La Découverte, 1991), pp. 89-102.

  • "American Physicians' `Discovery' of Homosexuals, 1880-1900: A New Diagnosis in a Changing Society," Chapter 6 in Framing Disease: Studies in Cultural History ed. Charles E. Rosenberg and Janet L. Golden (Rutgers University Press, 1992), pp. 104-133; second printing, 1996. This chapter was reprinted as Chapter 1 in Sickness and Health in America: Readings in the History of Medicine and Public Health ed. Judith Walzer Leavitt and Ronald L. Numbers (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1997), third edition, pp. 13-31.

  • "The Image and Advocacy of Public Health in American Caricature and Cartoons from 1860 to 1900," American Journal of Public Health 87:11 (November 1997), 1798-1807.

  • "America's First Medical Breakthrough: How Popular Excitement about a French Rabies Cure in 1885 Raised New Expectations of Medical Progress," American Historical Review 103:2 (April 1998), 373-418.

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Last updated 15 August 1998 (BH/JHW)