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Jennifer May Lee
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For instance, the inclusion of ethnic, religious, and gender groups' experiences into American history textbooks legitimates ideas about the inclusion of those groups into American cultural and political life. The inclusion of these groups also reifies those groups' experiences as different, unique, and worthy of study.
Histories may also identify specific avenues for social change. For instance, through the charting of historical inequalities between wages paid to males and females throughout American history we develop one way of measuring change in gender equality. The charting of gender inequity through wages also provides us with a specific goal to which we can subscribe. Historical methods can thus be tools for analysis of the present. (4)
These examples highlight the closely related tensions between identity and multiculturalism. On the one hand, the incorporation of diverse ethnic and religious groups into American history texts widens notions of "Americanness." On the other hand, the explosion of perspectives, values, and experiences may prevent any sense of national unity or political cohesion. (5) For instance, E. D. Hirsch "worries that America is becoming a 'tower of Babel,' and that multiculturalism is threatening to rend our social fabric." (6) Hirsch assumes that fragmentation of national identity and experience leads to loss of communication and order. For Hirsch, a change to and legitimation of multiplicity within American history textbooks would threaten social order.
At the same time these debates are occurring, the incidence of Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) has been rising. (7) While multiculturalism is a fracturing of the social group, MPD is a fracturing of the individual mind. Like multiculturalism, MPD carries with it a fear of loss of identity, cohesion, and communication. For instance, in the book and film "The Three Faces of Eve," Eve's multiple personalities cannot communicate with each other, and disrupt Eve's family, causing her to separate from both her husband and her daughter. Eve's multiple personalities threaten the order of her life, her family, and society in general.
While multiculturalism and MPD have different manifestations and implications, they also share some of the same fears and threats. With the proliferation of perspectives, truths, and narratives, how are we to know if anything is "real" or "true"? The threat of relativism, a state in which no communication or empathy may occur between different people, understandings, or narratives, prominently figures in discussions of multiplicity. (8) To many the idea of multiplicity seems liberating, yet multiplicity and relativism seem to go hand-in-hand.
In academia, discussions of multiplicity, fragmentation, and fluid boundaries are becoming increasingly widespread. Donna Haraway's cyborg by its nature transgresses boundaries and takes pleasure in its partiality; (9) Emily Martin's Flexible Bodies uncovers assumptions about continual change and modification in our understandings of the immune system; (10) Judith Butler and Allucquere Rosanne Stone discuss shifting conglomerations of gender; (11) Stone and Sherry Turkle see the Internet as a tool for users to create multiple selves distributed virtually. (12) Themes of boundary crossing, partial identity, and fluid notions of the self dominate all of these works.
Turkle, in her book Life on the Screen, says that "the many manifestations of multiplicity in our culture. . . are contributing to a general reconsideration of traditional, unitary, notions of identity." (13) Tied to these manifestations of multiplicity is a notion of flexibility -- "fluid access among many aspects." (14) So for Turkle, multiculturalism, MPD, and the academic discussions of multiplicity and flexibility are all parts of a general change in our culture away from perceiving identity as unitary and toward perceiving identity as multiplied.
Within this context of multiplied identity, the importance of the debates on the National History Standards are twofold: first, the debates highlight the contentious and political nature of history; and second, the debates highlight the tension between changing concepts of identity. (15) While Hirsch believes that American history books should reflect unitary notions of national identity, others like Ronald Takaki believe that the history books should reflect multiple national identities, all constantly in change and coexistence. (16)
These debates, then, are not just about whose voices may be heard and represented; they are also about what constitutes a better or more fruitful representation of national identity Ð unity or multiplicity.
These debates are about agency as well; they are about who has effected and will effect social change. If women are written into history as a group which has consistently been an active political, cultural, and social force, they consequently gain legitimacy as a current and future political, cultural, and social force.
What is at stake, then, in the writing of history, includes conceptions of identity, agency, and social order. The different types of American histories which can be written reaffirm visions of national and group identities, the agency of political groups, and the potential for social order based on unity or multiplicity.
This thesis is about how changing notions of identity operate in historical texts. This is not a thesis about historical consciousness per se, for its subject of scrutiny is less comparative epistemology, and more how narrations of the past, both on the social and personal scale, are constructed in the present.
I argue that the changing notions of identity -- from unity to multiplicity -- provide parameters for the construction of social change and social order. Each understanding of identity provides the foundations for understanding how and by whom social change may be effected, and what elements may provide order. I focus on how a model of identity is embedded in methods of historical analysis and representation.
I have chosen three works to study. They are arranged in chronological order. For each, I will first look at the role of individuals: those portrayed in the work, the author, and the reader. Next, I will examine the authors' depictions of social groups and social identities. Last, I will look at how the structure of the work reflects the model of identity the authors portray, and how the author creates a position for the reader to fill.
The fact that these models of identity differ is important in four respects. First, the differences between them point to wider social changes in conceptions of identity, which are reflected in historiographical changes. Second, these different conceptions of identity create different types of agents. Third, the creation of different types of agents has wider implications in the ongoing discussions of the political nature of history. Fourth, I will argue that while each work I examine puts forth a different model of identity, each uses this model to allow for specific types of social change while retaining specific types of social order. In this way, historical texts may be seen as mechanisms which translate changing conceptions of identities into tools for change, while avoiding relativism.
My first example is David Noble's Forces of Production, a book written about the role of social choice in technological change. Noble's book is an example of a history which depicts individuals and social groups which are static, unified, and tightly bounded. For Noble, agency and identity come from one's membership in a particular social group. Noble's continual focus on institutions and groups in terms of content and structure as well as his use of individual voices to represent group identity and agenda highlight and reinforce his understanding of the individual and social body as unified, tightly bounded, and without the capacity for change. For Noble, social change comes from the actions of social groups, and social order comes from the social groups' stability and unity.
My second example is Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer's book Leviathan and the Air-Pump. This book, an account of the debates between Boyle and Hobbes over social order and the status of experimental fact, highlight the agency of individuals in the definition of social categories and boundaries. In this book, individuals and social groups do not have any sort of essential or immutable unitary identity; instead fragmented identities become seen as unified through a process of social negotiation. Although we now see Boyle as a scientific icon and Hobbes as an iconic political theorist, Shapin and Schaffer show the mix of (what we would now consider) two disciplines in each of the two men. To Shapin and Schaffer, the unity and the separation of the two disciplines are artificial constructs imposed by present-day understandings of social groups. Here individuals have agency when they can shape and participate in more than one type of discourse, and are not inextricably attached to one social group or another.
Forces of Production and Leviathan and the Air-Pump are similar in that they are both written for explicitly political goals. By writing these histories, the authors hope to modify our current understandings of agency. Noble writes to refute the idea that technology drives social change; he wants to show how people may shape the direction and the consequences of technological development. Shapin and Schaffer want to refute the "self-evidentÓ status of scientific knowledge, by identifying how human actions and negotiations designate spaces and groups which may produce scientific facts. Both histories highlight relationships between human identity and technology. Noble demonstrates how the mentality of social groups is driven by a "myth of technological transcendence;Ó Shapin and Schaffer show how Boyle uses various types of technology to propagate his notion of social order and the production of experimental facts. These histories attempt to change contemporary understandings of science and technology. In doing so they attempt to create new possibilities for social change. Both are also books.
My third example, however, is not a book. It is a website created by Richard Meehan entitled, "Ignatius Donnelly and the End of the World." This website, I will argue, reflects the current proliferation of theories of flexibility, (17) multiplicity, and performance. In it Meehan explores themes of the end of the world and the story of the biblical flood. According to Meehan, stories of the biblical flood are retold each generation in terms of the concerns of those generations. (18) This website illustrates a multiplied understanding of identity which privileges individual negotiation and performance. Yet social roles, groups, and categories also play an important role in this website, by allowing for continuing communication in a world of multiplicity, thereby avoiding relativism. Although Meehan does not specifically mention political goals in his website, his concern with how present social and political themes echo our understandings of the biblical flood points to an acceptance of and participation in the political nature of history.
In this thesis I hope to show that despite the changing conceptions of identity, these histories provide practical means of thinking about our roles in wider social change, and measures which protect us from relativism. These histories give us the means to embrace changing notions of identity without losing the potential for meaningful political action and social transformation.
Hence Noble's lens of unity provides specific avenues for social change and order. Through various strategies Noble enlists the reader in the narrative as a member of a social group and gives him or her a specific path for social change.
Noble is explicit about his reasons for writing this book. Through his analysis of the change from record/playback machine tools (R/P) to numerically controlled machine tools (NC), Noble examines the social context which enabled specific types of technological choices and change, the social transformations that accompanied technological change, and the importance that technology played in reinforcing pre-existing hierarchies of power. Noble clearly uses his case study to refute technological determinism. He says, "This is not a book about American technology but about American society," and "Americans are now clinging to their epic myths of national identity and destiny, hoping for yet another revival. And central to these myths is a collective fantasy of technological transcendence." (19)
This statement is fascinating. Noble sees these myths as constitutive
of American national identity as well an American picture of a beneficial
future. He goes on to say:
"I do not intend here to try to account for the ideological inheritance
of technological determinism -- an impoverished version of the Enlightenment
notion of progress -- except to note that it has long served as a central
legitimating prop for capitalism, lending to domination the sanctity of
destiny. Fostered over the years by promoters, pundits, and professionals,
the habit of thought has been reinforced as well by historians, who have
been caught up by it too, have routinely ratified the claims of promoters,
and have found in such determinism an easy way of explaining history. .
. . Technological determinism absolves people of responsibility to change
it and weds them instead to the technological projections of those in command.
. . . This inquiry into the evolution of automatically controlled machine
tools is an attempt to demystify technological development and thereby
to challenge and transcend the obsessions and fantasies that artificially
delimit our imagination and freedom of action. Hence, the aim is not merely
to put technology in perspective, but to put it aside, in order to make
way for reflection and revolution." (20)
In this quote, Noble sees the narrative of technological determinism as the legitimator of political as well as social understandings. This narrative also legitimates a national identity. The narrative guides who and what we see having agency. In this way history becomes a model of thinking about social roles and social changes. Historians reinforce this model, and use it as a form of historical explanation. This narrative is a lens through which we view our own places and actions in the world. Noble goes on to say that this narrative scripts (21) people's agency and action. The narrative guides action as well as defines the possibility for action. By writing his history, Noble proposes a model for change, identity, and social organization. According to this quote, our ability to rewrite narratives allows us to change our possible actions. History, then, is politics. History is also a model for identity and action. By shifting our focus away from technology, Noble believes that we will perceive ourselves as having more agency.
So Noble's book is as much about the embeddedness of politics in technology as it is about the embeddedness of politics in history. By re-representing technology as not value-neutral, Noble (re)creates potential social action. (22)
That Forces of Production is a Marxist history (23) is another, more understated (but still obvious) aspect of this book. Noble's ideological background informs his choice of subject matter ("Forces of Production"), the kinds of groups he focuses on (managers and military), and, as I will argue, the attribution of agency to particular social groups rather than individuals. Noble assumes, in the long quote above, that technology is an instrument for domination of specific groups.
In Forces of Production, individuals are flat characters; Noble gives the reader a limited view of each individual's personality. Individuals do not drive the analysis; instead they are employed by Noble only in their capacity as members of a group.
Noble analyses individuals through their membership in a specific social group or institution which is often based on the kind of work they do. When Noble mentions an individual, he immediately places that individual within an institution or a social group. (24) Noble discusses individuals as representations of the way institutions and social groups as a whole behave. In a broader sense, Noble uses parts as representations of wholes (in this case, the individual-- one part of a social group-- is a representative of the goals, views, and mentality of the whole social group). As we will see this formulation applies not only to the relationship of individuals to the social group but also to relationships between smaller and larger social groups.
John Parsons is an example of an individual who Noble uses to represent the characteristics of a social group. (25) Although Parsons "came out of the shop," it was as the son of the owner of the shop. Parsons then went on to become president of the Parsons Corporation. Noble shows how Parsons was influenced by the military, tried to get rid of management's dependency on human skill, and pushed specific types of technological development accordingly. Noble says, "For Parsons, there was still far too much mechanical skill required in the process." (26) Parsons embodies the management's obsession with control over workers, the management's close ties with the military, and the management's willingness to use a technological fix as a solution to social problems. Parsons' identity, agency, goals, and drives come from his participation within a specific social group.
Noble himself, by writing such a clearly Marxist history, presents his own identity as a member of a specific social group. We never see any other aspects of his personality, experience, etc. come through in the text. Our only window into this man called David Noble is through the category of Marxism.
What is the role of the reader in all of this? From what social group does the reader derive his or her identity; for whom does Noble write this book? Since Noble locates agency in social groups, and writes in order to rewrite possibilities for social change, his audience is important. We may assume that this book is not only aimed at machine shop managers and workers. Noble must engage the reader in such a way to first convince him or her that something needs to be changed, and define the reader's relationship to that change. The reader so far seems primarily passive. I will return to the role of the reader later in the section on structure.
As we have seen, Noble's focus is not the individual but the social group. These groups embody specific characteristics, which guide how they will act and react. In creating his powerful tool for social reform, Noble's portrayal of the actions of social groups becomes important.
Noble deals mainly with three groups in his book: management, workers,
and the military. Throughout his book, the managers are depicted as those
with power to effect change, interested in denying workers' power, even
at the expense of efficiency. Workers, on the other hand, are those with
interests generally counter to the managers, and those who may resist the
managers. The managers' power interests, and not any measure of which technology
is more cost or time efficient, motivates the choice of NC machine tools
over R/P machine tools.
"The ideas that shaped this outcome had their source in the overlapping technical, managerial, and military communities. First, within the technical community these ideas included a preference for formal, abstract, and quantitative approaches to the formulation and solution of problems, an obsession with control, certainty, and predictability, and a corresponding desire to eliminate as much as possible all uncertainty, contingency, and change for human error . . . . Second, within the management community, the dominant ideas clustered around a fundamental preoccupation with control, over both the physical details and human activities of productionÉ.Finally, within the military community, the dominant ideas were rooted in military traditions of command and controlÉ.
These three sets of complementary ideas reinforced one another
and converged in the postwar period. And this intellectual climate was
sustained and institutionalized by the power of these three communities:
that of the military to subsidize and shape technological development,
that of the technical community to lend scientific sanction and prestige
to the chosen course of development, and that of the management to decide
how the new technology would be used to and to impose this decision on
the workforceÉ. And in the process, they [power and ideas] became
embedded in that technology, to be thereafter sanctioned by the myth of
inevitable technological progress." (27)
From this quote, three groups have power. They are portrayed as homogenous within themselves, acting as institutions and not as separate individuals.
This quote also demonstrates that social groups are literally the objects of Noble's study. He manipulates them as "black boxes," (28) without ever opening them up to see whether the insides are as unified as he thinks they are. While Noble's project to remake possibilities for social change is subversive of the current relationship between social groups, it retains and accepts the current form of social order. By presenting the groups as clear, static, and unified, Noble denies an avenue of social change -- change through shifting membership in groups, and shifting group identities and purposes. He also denies political connection between different groups by making clear distinctions between the different goals of the different groups. Noble leaves no room for negotiation within groups about the identity of the group (just as he leaves no room for individuals within a group to have different identities than the group); he leaves no room for groups to change identities or have constantly shifting alliances with other groups; he leaves no room for the reader to negotiate with Noble's characterization of individuals, groups, relationships between groups, or assumptions about agency and identity. Along with the clear, static and bounded configurations of agency and identity come clear, static and bounded understandings of the objects of Noble's analysis.
Forces of Production is divided into three parts. The first, "Command and control," focuses on the military, military development of technology, and military influence on American national identity and technological understanding. The second section, "Social choice in machine design," centers on institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the concerns of groups such as the General Electric management which led to the development of both NC and R/P machine tools, as well as the choice to label one better than the other. The third section, entitled "A new industrial revolution: change without change," also focuses on the military, managers, and institutions (like GE) of the previous sections, highlighting the results of their work and ideology. In this section, however, the workers play a more important role, as they negotiated (through the union) with GE management. In Forces of Production, the play of institutions guides Noble's analysis. Noble's partitioning of the book in this manner highlights his focus on social groups. Individuals appear sporadically throughout each section, but only to act as representatives of the social groups they belong to and further Noble's points about the unified goals, understandings, and power (or lack thereof) of those groups.
In the last section, the workers have a voice through the pilot program and through the union. Again, it is a unified voice with a unified vision. In other words, there is nothing wrong with this group except that it doesn't have power. The solution then has nothing to do with the social groups -- Noble doesn't question them -- it has all to do with power relations, which can only be changed through unified social action in the form of changed understandings nation-wide. In both his representation of the problem and solution Noble reifies social categories.
As a book, Forces of Production will most likely be read linearly, from start to finish. In a book such as this the reader will probably assume that the first chapter will set the stage for the rest of the book, giving relevant background and justifying the author's choice of material, presentation, and methodology. The first chapter also draws the reader into the material. Similarly, the last chapter of the book will give the reader a summary of the main or most important points of the book as well as emphasize the significance of the book. The designated beginning and end points thus have important and understood functions within a regular academic book such as Noble's.
In Forces of Production, both the preface and the conclusion
focus on American national identity and the "fantasy of technological transcendence."
(29) At these two points the reader may glimpse Noble's goals most clearly.
At these two points Noble subsumes the middle sections on the interactions
and agency of various institutions in order to say that an effective transformation
of the current system depends on a larger ideological shift -- a shift
of the "fantasies" of the whole nation. Noble quotes Lewis Mumford's statement
that, "... the only effective way of conserving the genuine achievements
of this technology is to alter the ideological basis of the whole system."
(30) In the end, the various enactments of the different social groups
Noble portrays in the body of his book are just examples of problematic
assumptions of the society in general. Even workers, who Noble portrays
as the victims of our belief in technological progress, suffer from the
same delusions as the rest of America.
"The concentration of corporate power, the internationalization of enterprises.
The ability to play one country's work force off against anotherÔs
in a global division of labor, the unprecedented mobility of capital, and
the direct assault upon organized labor's right to exist in the United
States, all give to management great advantages in this contest. Moreover,
the official trade union challenge itself is handicapped from within, by
a union leadership distrust and fear of its own more militant rank and
file and, equally important, by an abiding faith in technological promises."(31)
Despite the differences in goals of groups, the groups' conflicting perspectives may be reconciled within American national identity. This is why the title of the book includes the phrase "a social history of industrial automation." Just as individuals represent specific social groups, these social groups represent the society as a whole. While there are clear boundaries between social groups, in the end Noble provides a unity that encompasses them all: America.
This book is not meant to be read only by Marxists, workers, or management. So Noble's introduction and conclusion provide a point of entry and a site for agency for the reader. By beginning and ending Forces of Production with his claims about American national identity, Noble's narrative embodies the assumption that his readers fit into this group. I don't think this is just a simplification on his part; I believe that this is his strategy. By assuming that the reader is a member of the group of people who subscribe to myths of technological transcendence, Noble tacitly converts the reader's sense of agency. The reader is introduced to the book as a member of a specific group which Noble wants to transform; Noble then enlists the reader in his perspective on the reader's identity; Noble then tells the reader which specific avenues of social change should be followed.
Although Noble's focus on management, workers, and military throughout the body of the book leads us to think that it is those groups which have agency to effect social change, Noble's sweeping statements at the end of the book qualify that agency. The social groups may only act in accordance with their positions as described by the wider myths of American technological transcendence.
My goal here is not to disparage Noble's work or political ideology. Instead I wish to show how Noble looks through a lens of unified wholes, and consequently traces problems, solutions, and identities from this starting point. So although Noble writes this history in order to open up human agency, it is a specific type of agency which retains current group identification and classification.
Noble's either/or mentality occurs at several levels. Individuals may only identify with one group or another. America does subscribe to a fantasy of technological transcendence or it does not. The reader may subscribe to Noble's ideas or may not. This either/or mentality allows the reader little room for negotiation. Noble is irrefutable within his own work. It would therefore be difficult to interpret Forces of Production in any other way than the author intended. Not only are Noble's vision of social groups closed, but so are our glimpses into them.
I think that Noble's attribution of agency is an artifact of the bounded categories (of worker, management, military, etc.) which he assumes exist. While his depiction of technology departs quite radically from what he calls "obsessions and fantasies" of technologically determinist Americans, his reification of the bounded categories "worker" and "manager" is not, in one sense, subversive. Noble's history is subversive in the sense that he points to ways of rethinking technology and the power of two specific social groups, but he does not re-think the social groups themselves. In that sense Noble clearly retains some of the existing social order. Order, for Noble, arises out of the categories of identities. His bounded notions of individuals and social groups provide the framework for his decisions about what avenues are open for change and what avenues are closed, as well as who may change and who may not.
By writing Forces of Production, Noble transforms his lens of unity into a tool for social action. The text transforms social groups into agents of social change; Noble transforms some sheets of paper into a model of social change.
The authors concentrate primarily on the relationship between individuals and different kinds of technology: literary (for example, publications or descriptions of experiments), material (the air-pump), and social technologies (conventions of interaction and evaluation). (32) To Shapin and Schaffer these technologies convince other people and groups of the truth of the individual's claims. Boyle was able to transmit and codify a type of "legitimate philosophical knowledge" as well as the rules which governed the "moral life of the experimental community." (33) Because these technologies are so closely related to the identities and types of knowing that individuals transmit, they too become incorporated into the identities of social groups. For instance, in the definition of the moral life of the experimental community, Boyle's air-pump becomes an emblem of a "new and powerful practice," (34) representing an instrument of the discovery of scientific facts as well as the community itself. Thus the methods of transmission of Boyle's model of knowing and behavior themselves become synonymous with the group identities which are created. The air-pump is now a "scientific instrument," just as Boyle is now a "scientist." The authors' knowledge and depiction of Boyle and Hobbes are based entirely on these technologies (literary, material, and social). At the same time that the authors portray a process starting with the individual and extending out into society through technologies, they engage in the reverse process -- through the various technologies they have researched the authors reconstruct the individuals Boyle and Hobbes. These technologies are an individual's link to a society; they are also a society's link to the identity of an individual.
The authors also look at the historical specificity of ideas such as "truth," "adequacy," and "objectivity." They emphasize that not only are these ideas constructions, but they are characterizations which historians reinforce. Shapin and Schaffer invoke Wittgenstein's notion of a "language-game" in order to approach "scientific method as integrated into patterns of activity." (35) In other words, the authors are concerned with how "solutions to the problem of knowledge are embedded within practical solutions to the problem of social order, and [how] different practical solutions to the problem of social order encapsulate contrasting practical solutions to the problem of knowledge." (36) Shapin and Schaffer's observations about historians' reification of scientific facts, truth, and objectivity are especially interesting in light of their use of the "language-game." While the authors may not see histories as "solutions to the problem of knowledge," histories do reinforce social order and legitimate knowledge in the form of fact, truth, and objectivity. Thus both scientific and historical narratives (re)create or reinforce notions of legitimate knowledge and social order. These notions of knowledge and social order are not just imposed upon us by some mystical discursive realm; we participate in their construction and procreation. The understandings which are developed and reified through history are integrated into our activities and our perceptions of ourselves as agents of historical change. Just as scientific understandings are not "self-evident," (37) historical interpretations are also not "self-evident," but are products of our participation in ideas about identity and social order.
Shapin and Schaffer are then participating in a reconstruction and subversion of our current understanding of scientific knowledge, practice, and communities. "To identify the role of human agency in the making of an item of knowledge is to identify the possibility of its being otherwise." (38) By rewriting the history of scientific fact and method Shapin and Schaffer transform the dimensions of potential social change. In other words, by exposing items of knowledge as other than self-evident, Shapin and Schaffer open avenues of social change-- we may now remake or reconstitute "scientific facts," and in doing so, change the meanings and power of the scientific community.
Accordingly, the two authors focus on two individuals whom we now see as icons of contemporary social groups: Boyle, who now epitomizes the "scientist," and Hobbes, who is seen strictly as a political theorist. (39) The authors make a point about the way we use our present understandings of social groups and read them into stories about the past. We see the past in terms of the present, and we use historical characters to reinforce our ideas about present social categories. These categories, such as a belief in scientific knowledge and the identities and roles of scientists, appear eternal, immutable, and self-evident.
The authors first leave the boundedness of these two roles (scientist and political theorist) and state that both individuals had scientific and political theories. It wasn't that Boyle ignored his political theory in order to pursue his scientific one; instead the theories informed each other, and enabled Boyle's particular conception of social problems and social action.
"Only by establishing right rules of discourse could matters of fact be generated and defended, and only by constituting these matters of fact into the agreed foundations of knowledge could a moral community of experimentalists be created and sustained. . . . The problem of producing this kind of knowledge was, therefore, the problem of maintaining a certain form of discourse and a certain form of social solidarity." (40)
Scientific discourse, then, was just as much about science as it was about defining boundaries around communities, which would then have authority over specific types of knowledge.
By using the multiple components of their personalities these two individuals were able to gain power. The current boundaries between scientific and political thought are products of the negotiations of Boyle and Hobbes, not something essential.
"For Hobbes, the activity of the philosopher was not bounded: there
was no cultural space where knowledge should not go. The methods of the
natural philosopher were, in crucial respects, identical to those of the
civic philosopher, just as the purpose of each was the same: the achievement
and protection of public peace. Hobbes's own career was a token of the
philosophical enterprise so conceived. For Boyle and his colleagues, the
topography of culture looked different. Their cultural terrain was vividly
marked out with boundary-stones and warning notices. Most importantly,
the experimental study of nature was to be visibly withdrawn from "human
affairs." The experimentalists were not to "meddle with" affairs of "church
and state." The study of nature occupied a quite different space from the
study of men and their affairs: objects and subjects would not and could
not be treated as part of the same philosophical enterprise. By erecting
such boundaries, the experimentalists thought to create a quiet and a moral
space for the natural philosopher: "civil war" within their ranks would
be avoided by observing these boundaries and the conventions of discourse
Boundaries around people and objects and the categorization of thought, action, or personality, are products of theory, not nature.
Shapin and Schaffer themselves cross boundaries by writing this book. Shapin, a Professor of Sociology, and Schaffer, from a department in the History and Philosophy of Science, create a theory which reinscribes and recreates the boundaries between science and politics. They conclude that "knowledge, as much as the state, is the product of human actions." (42) At a time when the boundaries between types of knowledge are again in question, who would be more appropriate to rewrite relationships than two folks from interdisciplinary fields?
But, more importantly, the authors, by writing this book, are reinscribing the boundaries between science and politics. The book acts as a type of literary technology which may distribute the authors' understandings of the relationship between scientific and political knowledge. Just as our window to the identities of Boyle and Hobbes is through the technologies they used, so it is with our window to the identities of the authors. Whereas Noble retained the unity of the social groups he studied, Shapin and Schaffer are, through their writing, blurring the boundaries between and transforming the social groups.
What is the role of the reader in this book? Unlike Boyle or Hobbes, the reader is not shaping a society, not defining boundaries. The reader's role in this book may seem primarily passive as well. The authors have their own theory about relationships between types of knowledge; like Boyle, they create virtual witnesses to historical events. (43) The reader becomes one of these witnesses. The reader is on the receiving end of the authors' literary technology, being (possibly) incorporated into the retransformation of boundaries between science and politics.
In some ways, the reader's role is similar in this case to the case of Noble's Forces of Production. In both books, the authors want the reader to change his or her attitude towards something (for Noble, technology; for Shapin and Schaffer, the boundary between science and politics). For both, the reader is involved in some sort of wider social change. For both, the reader does not have to be a member of the groups which the authors have specifically identified in the text (for Noble, managers, the military, and workers; for Shapin and Schaffer, scientists). However, in Noble's case, the reader is (potentially) enacting a role as a member of a homogenous group and has agency precisely because he or she is a member of that group. For Shapin and Schaffer, the reader is not the primary agent; instead the authors are the agents and the reader is, along with society (not as a representative of society), being transformed.
In the preceding paragraph it may seem that I give the reader no agency at all. I do not intend to propose that the reader is passive. Instead I want to look at how these authors, through their narrative strategies, create a particular position for the reader to fill, which the reader then may negotiate with.
Just as our perceptions of individuals depend upon our understandings of social categories, our perceptions of social groups also rely on understandings of where boundaries lie. Even within social categories there is rarely homogeneity or consensus. For example, not all scientists have the same beliefs or agendas. Shapin and Schaffer (unlike Noble) use individuals to expose the variety of thinking that goes on in what we perceive as one group. Although not all members necessarily have the same agenda or same understandings, individuals such as Boyle and Hobbes become icons of social groups, and this way are easily identified. Consequently, social roles and understandings enable identification and communication between social groups.
For Shapin and Schaffer, individuals have agency when they are able to resolve their understandings of the world by inscribing them into other technologies, institutions, people, etc. For Shapin and Schaffer, social groups themselves do not have agency; instead agency comes from the construction of common understandings across boundaries.
The authors give a synopsis of their book in the first chapter. The synopsis highlights the connection between individual identities and the technologies used to distribute and enforce the authors' understandings of social order. For example, chapter six is about Boyle and replication of experiments, in terms of "the set of technologies which transforms what counts as belief into what counts as knowledge." (44) In this chapter the focus on the air-pump highlights the close relationship between the use of a technology, the acceptance of the boundaries of a social group, and the identification of that technology with a specific group, type of knowledge, and an understanding of social order. In order to replicate Boyle's experiments other experimenters had to make their own air-pumps; in order to calibrate and evaluate their air-pumps they had to accept Boyle's phenomena as "matters of fact." (45) The technology becomes inextricably linked to a type of knowledge as well as an individual. Just as we now categorize Boyle as a scientist, we now categorize the air-pump as a scientific instrument. The identities of both people and technologies can become icons of a social group. The constant movement between the technologies, the social groups being constituted, and the individuals of Boyle and Hobbes characterize the entire book until the last sections.
This movement between individuals, technologies, and social groups reflects the authors' position that individuals may effect social change through technologies. The technologies here are not neutral carriers of understanding, however. Through the process of (re)inforcing specific understandings, the technologies, like the individuals creating them, become linked to specific categories. For instance, Boyle's technology of the air-pump and his descriptions of his experiments enabled him to disseminate his understanding of how an experimental community should function. Those technologies are just as much a part of the experimental community as Boyle, the individual, is.
The identities of individuals, technologies, and social groups become inextricably linked together. Shapin and Schaffer cannot talk about one without the other. Even though we assume that Boyle had ideas about the nature of experimental facts before he transmitted these to other people, the authors never discuss this. The authors cannot, because this would endanger their model. Our only view into Boyle's head is through the technologies he used to inscribe boundaries around a group of people, objects, techniques, and knowledge.
In the last two chapters-- "Natural Philosophy and the Restoration," and "The Polity of Science," the authors move to the larger social and political scene. Like Noble, they shift focus to a larger unity, placing science within the realm of politics, and saying that all forms of knowledge are solutions to the problem of social order. This is why I say that although the authors focus on two individuals, their book is about society and social groups. This is why the authors never speak of individuals out of the socio-technological context. Individuals, in effect, don't matter outside of their socio-technological relationships-- their identities are not knowable or accountable.
In these last two chapters, Shapin and Schaffer place the debates between Boyle and Hobbes within the context of religious and political circumstance. Boyle, like the Church, wished to secure authority over specific types of knowledge. He and the Church had a common enemy: Hobbes. The inscription of boundaries around a scientific sphere and around scientific knowledge was the product of such an alliance -- an alliance which secured the Church's and Boyle's understanding of social order based on authority over "segregated areas of competence." (46) The authors go on to conclude that science is a subset of politics.
A key part of this argument is that in order to create and define a social group such as an experimental community, one must transform not just the members of that particular group but all of society. Scientists are not the only ones who know what belongs to the realm of science and what belongs to the realm of politics; all the members of the society understand where the boundaries lie between the two groups and disciplines.
Like Noble, Shapin and Schaffer are writing a political history. Rather than employing individuals as representations of social groups, they employ a study of two individuals in order to deconstruct the unified understandings of social categories.
The initial multiplicity of Boyle and Hobbes becomes obscured within the present social categories which are products of the debates between the two. While Shapin and Schaffer believe that the perceived unity of social groups is a product of theory and not of some essential nature, they do not try to preserve fragmentation-- they see social categories as normal, unities as normal. The categories are created and become frameworks for the way we think and position ourselves and others in the world.
By writing this history, Shapin and Schaffer do not destroy the unity of the scientific community, they only change the meaning of the group (by showing that scientific fact is not just "self-evident," scientists no longer seem separate from the social realm). Boyle and Hobbes are retained as icons within Shapin and Schaffer's account; scientists are retained as a group.
While, in Noble's account, identities come exclusively from the social realm, Shapin and Schaffer carefully attach both individual and social identities to technology. For these two authors, order arises from a negotiation of boundaries which transforms the entire social body, not just the groups which are created. Transformation must occur through communication; agents are dependent on communication. Thus communication can never be disrupted, and relativism can never occur.
For Noble, the social groups, categories, and roles are given, self-evident, and immutable. Shapin and Schaffer, however, allow for change. For Noble, social change must occur through the transformation of our attitudes toward technology, which in turn will transform the relations between social groups (but not the nature of the groups themselves); for Shapin and Schaffer we may change our attitudes through the transformation of the social groups themselves. Noble takes groups as a given, and through unified change of our understandings of technology, wishes to overcome the common myth of technological transcendence; Shapin and Schaffer, through the reconstitution of groups, hope to reconstitute our (common) attitudes toward science and scientific fact.
Yet the boundaries between science and politics have been well understood for almost 300 years. The order of our society rests upon the relegation of authority over specific forms of knowledge to specific groups (scientific knowledge to scientists, religious knowledge to religious groups, academic knowledge to academics, etc.). With this great historical distance, why should we now question the boundaries between groups and types of knowledge?
"We have written about a period in which the nature of knowledge, the nature of the polity, and the nature of the relationships between them were matters for wide-ranging and practical debate. . . . In the late-twentieth century that settlement is, in turn, being called into serious question. Neither our scientific knowledge, nor the constitution of our society, nor traditional statements about the connections between our society and our knowledge are taken for granted any longer. As we come to recognize the conventional and artifactual status of our forms of knowing, we put ourselves in a position to realize that it is ourselves and not reality that is responsible for what we know." (47)
I think that the authors perceive multiplicity as a symptom of change and an opportunity for the assertion of agency. During the period that the authors discuss, Boyle and Hobbes both had what we would perceive as a scientific and a political theory. Only now have we again recognized and attributed those two "sides" to Boyle and Hobbes; only when the "settlement" is "called into serious question" can we perceive multiplicity.
Multiplicity, then, provides a space for change to occur and allows boundaries to be redrawn; yet it is not normative. Just as Shapin and Schaffer close their book with unity, the two authors believe that social order will be settled in terms of settled and unified groups and understandings.
Meehan's website gives the reader a feel of taking a virtual journey. The reader is asked to follow one of three "paths," and must continually make choices during his or her exploration of the website, along a chosen path. This motif of the journey highlights the active, participative, and unique experience of the reader.
Meehan looks through a lens of multiplicity. His focus, unlike Noble, is not on the social group or on society but on the individual. Individuals have agency through their multiple and changing identities. Meehan retains the possibility of continual change and transformation. Identities are not merely imposed on individuals; individuals perform identities. Meehan's website is about the negotiation of identity; his theme is the (virtual) journey.
Social groups and roles, in this model, are only points of navigation -- social groups exist as points of navigation for the varied individual identities and journeys which are constantly being constructed. Though an individual may identity him or herself as a "scientist," he or she in fact has more than one facet to his or her personality. These identities are constantly changing as individuals interact.
While there are many possible ways of journeying through the website, the possibilities are not limitless. Meehan still has an agenda by making the paths connect; he still has a meaning that he wants to convey. Indeed, boundaries and constraints are not inherently bad. They are the walls to our domicile of sanity and safety. Meehan's virtual journey provides the reader with a framework through which he or she may negotiate an identity.
Meehan's website is populated by many individuals. Some are recognizable historical figures, such as Ignatius Donnelly and Aristotle, and some are "regular" people, such as Meehan and his friend Cessair. Some appear only in one episode; some, like Ignatius Donnelly and Cessair reappear throughout the website. Unlike Noble, Meehan's focus is on the ideas and interactions of these individuals in their various capacities, not on individuals as representations of specific, unchanging social groups.
Meehan remakes and fictionalizes his historical characters; they may no longer serve as icons for one group or another. For example, Ignatius Donnelly does not represent a "politician" or a "crackpot" but a person with many conflicting interests and desires. (50) The characters may have changing and unexpected functions. For instance, Ignatius Donnelly comments not only on his own work and experiences but on the idiosyncrasies of contemporary America. (51) By fictionalizing these characters Meehan makes it impossible for us to view them through the lens of our current bounded social groups. (52) We may no longer look at Ignatius Donnelly just as a "politician;" (53) he becomes politician-catastrophist-farmer. His identity is now a multiple, hyphenated, and impossible to completely classify. (54)
Meehan himself, as a character and author in the website, also embodies multiple identities. He is by profession an engineer and a consulting professor, but he is also a father, writer, and friend. He manifests all of these different identities and roles within the website. He participates in every one of the "three paths" of science, love, and religion. The multiple journeys evident in the web site are not secondary to exploration of historical, religious, or scientific issues, but intimately related. Meehan's placement of Love as a path to the end of the world is evidence of the centrality of personal issues. Science and Religion all have to do with universals. Science is the study of universal laws and phenomenon. Religion provides universal boundaries that no human may transgress, and provides universal rules for ones own placement within the world. But love is a gutsy path, and one that can be only personal. This is not to say that science and religion are not personal. By having the paths merge, Meehan is making a statement about the personal nature of all three paths: science, love, and religion. Meehan priveledges the personal aspects by giving them a central place in the website. Our perceptions of historical events, our understandings of science and religion, and our personal issues and relationships are all related. By participating in all three, he provides his character as an example of the multiplicity of all individuals' identities.
Meehan is not just exploring themes to the end of the world in his capacity as an academic. Because of the knowledge that he gains, the people he encounters, and the historical characters he imagines, Meehan's research is part of an ongoing negotiation of his own personal identity.
One may object that just because Noble, Shapin, and Schaffer don't make their personal interest and involvement in their books explicit, that doesn't mean that their work isn't part of a negotiation of personal identity. So how much, then, does the explicit insertion of personal choice and personal identity in the text make a difference? I think that the difference is subtle, but important. By placing himself within the text, Meehan provides himself as an example of how one may approach, read, research, or write history. Meehan doesn't study history just because he doesn't want society to repeat the same mistakes of the past, or because he wishes to predict the future. His reasons are not only external to himself.
Also, Meehan fulfills a dual role-- as author of a historical work, and as a reader of history. His role provides an example of how both an author may be personally involved in his or her subject matter, as well as an example of how a reader may be involved. As a reader, Meehan's reading of history is not separate from the other aspects of his life, such as raising his children. (55) The acquisition of academic knowledge is not a separate sphere of life and experience which only affects us in the library or in the office; it is something that colors and pervades other aspects of our lives and roles.
By the same token, the reader's participation in the website is both explicit and multi-faceted. The reader must choose, at the beginning, to follow the character of Ignatius Donnelly or one of three paths: science, love, or religion. These paths represent ways of knowing. Although the website provides a designated beginning point, the reader from then on must make choices and carry out the appropriate physical actions in order to continue. Both the mental and physical exercise of agency highlights the readers' participation in his or her own type of virtual journey.
Science, love, and religion seem to be clearly separate categories of knowledge. A proper scientist would not allow love or religion to sway his or her science; love seems to have little to do with science or religion; religious groups are often assumed to be antagonistic to modern science. Yet just as Meehan participates in all three, so does the reader.
By choosing one path, the reader in a sense identifies him or herself with a way of approaching or knowing the world. But while the reader begins with a bounded identity, the boundaries between one identity and another fade as the reader travels through link after link. In addition, each encounter with the website may lead to a different journey. (56) This model of interaction (starting from a clearly defined identity and moving to something fuzzier through a path of links) suggests that Meehan sees societal roles as points of navigation on the road to individual identities. Scientists' understandings and stories aren't completely different than those of religious people; the narratives of different groups somehow speak to each other, incorporate each other, and influence each other. Multiple narratives may influence the same person.
The reader may or may not subscribe to Meehan's version of how individual and social identities relate to each other. Again, I don't want to say that the reader's identity and self-understanding are determined by his or her reading. My point is that the reader must approach the work by entering into the model that the author has provided. Whether the reader will then change is impossible to say. But the author has given the reader a specific place within the work (book or website) and from there attempts to engage the reader in a specific type of way. In this case, the reader must enter into the website through the character of Ignatius Donnelly, or through one of the three paths. The longer the reader continues journeying through the website, the more likely it is that he or she will encounter episodes which aren't strictly about the path he or she has chosen, or about Ignatius Donnelly. So even though the reader may not recognize the author's understanding of identity, he or she participates in it. The author configures the reader's place and agency within the text, by providing specific avenues to follow. In this case, the social categorizations (science, love, religion) are given, but the reader must place him or herself and the other characters within them. These individuals with their multiple identities exist in multiple relationships to each other; it is the reader's prerogative to create links between them.
Just because the paths are linked doesn't mean we all have the same identity. Instead the variety of journeys that may occur for different people and even for the same person (upon visiting multiple times) demonstrate both the multiple and changing identities of one person as well as the multiple identities that exist within and between social groups.
Individuals may use social groups in order to define themselves, but they really negotiate with a larger set of narratives. Individual identities are constantly negotiated, constantly performed, and constantly change as our relationships with others change. Social categories are not imposed on individuals; instead these categories provide a framework from which individuals may work out respective identities. While this website contains roles and categories, these roles and categories are neither tightly bounded nor universalizing. Meehan says, "This timeless story [of the biblical flood] is retold in different ways every few decades, and for the coming millennium it's going to have a scientific flavor, complete with global warming and oxygen isotope ratios and of course non-linear-dynamics, feminist archaeology, and viral plagues." (57) Here science and religion are not completely separate spheres; scientific and religious stories speak to each other and allow for communication between the two groups. Thus the blurring of boundaries provides for communication between groups. Agency, for Meehan, doesn't extend from identification with one category or another, but from the ability to move from category to category with flexibility and fluidity. By having many parts which extend from many different types of narratives, individuals avoid both relativism and an either/or dichotomy.
For Meehan, social groups serve a practical function. The roles and identities that social groups provide are the common understandings which allow different people to communicate, empathize, and identify with each other. While I may identify myself as a religious person, I have scientists and others to compare to. I may not agree with the views of scientists, but I understand generally what a scientist is compared to myself. I may justify my interpretations of the biblical flood by arguing against the versions of the flood given by the scientists. On the other hand, I may identify myself as a scientist, who uses the Bible as a source for understanding of the flood, even though I do not take the bible literally. I use science to account for Biblical descriptions. In both cases, the social roles of scientists and religious people become points of common understanding which allow communication between different individuals. Even though two individuals may not agree with each other, they both understand and accept that science and religion are tactics of justification and comprehension of the same event. By appealing to the categories of science and religion, individuals may locate themselves and others, thereby accounting for both difference and similarity. While these social categories and roles have a practical and necessary function, they are not deterministic. Individuals may identify with one category without committing only to that one category. Meehan does not propose that we have as many social categories as we have people; instead he uses a given set of social roles as building blocks for an infinite number of individual identities. Because social groups provide common understandings, Meehan's model is not relativistic.
The material nature of, organization of, and social understandings built into this website highlight and reflect the multiple and changing identities of the individuals I have talked about.
I have been hinting throughout this paper that history is a type of simulacrum. (58) What I mean by this is that reality is arguably less important than our representation of it through history. History, as it is written, is a model which legitimates certain courses of action, certain legitimate identities, and certain visions of the past, present, and future. By mentioning and including groups such as women into the National History standards, for instance, those groups become reified as a "social group," a social identity, a dimension of historical analysis, and a group with agency in regard to historical change. Assumptions are embedded in the model; these assumptions are the parameters. But other parameters are based in the format through which people approach the model. The design or technical characteristics of a medium may then be a source of assumptions or parameters.
The material differences between a website, which must be accessed on a computer and something like a book may significantly change the experience of the reader. As I previously mentioned, the physical movements involved moving from link to link highlight the participation of the reader. Yet, a reader cannot personalize the text of a website the way he or she can dog-ear a book page, write notes in the margins, or underline and highlight text. One cannot "own" a website the way one can own a book; it has to be accessed from the source each time one wants to view it. Therefore all personalization must take at the level of interpretation or movement through the website.
The structures of websites, as exemplified by Ignatius Donnelly, are less linear than more traditional media. (59) Meehan's work has a clear beginning but no clear end, has no clear or well-beaten path through the episodes, and contains episodes which are given similar weight within the piece as a whole. In more traditional media as exemplified by Shapin and Schaffer, Noble, and myself, there is a clear beginning, middle, and end; most readers will read the text in the order it is presented (from start to finish); and there are designated introductions and conclusions which usually summarize, highlight, or represent the work as a whole. In website like Meehan's, then, the reader has more discretion to determine which elements are more important, to determine his or her path through the work, and to create or figure out what connections there are between episodes. Thus there are no clear-cut causal or even temporal connections. The non-linearity of this website has several implications. First, episodes are often unrelated to each other. Thus, unlike in a book, one episode does not "set the stage" for another. The author cannot set up the reader for a particular interpretation of an event or an idea as easily. The only way for a journey to be cumulative is for the reader to create cumulative links between episodes. By encountering the same episodes in a different order, then, the reader may have a vastly different understanding, interpretation, or reaction. Thus the context, order, and content of the episodes we encounter shape the meaning of the journey as a whole. The combination of the flexibility of the journey and the lack of a designated endpoint where the author tells the reader what the meaning is gives the reader some freedom of interpretation, and the opportunity to have different experiences upon journeying on different occasions. (60)
Books, journals, and other more traditional media have a certain transparency in today's world because they are so common, so pervasive, so accepted, and so old; these texts exist within a wide-spread but well-defined network of institutions, ideas, conventions, and technologies. The "newness" of websites, therefore, provides another set of parameters. Although some people are now developing Internet etiquette ("netiquette") and vocabulary, in general the Internet has fewer conventions than more traditional media have. There are also accepted communities who use types of literature, catalogs of literature, classifications of literatureÑin short, a whole network of understandings, documents, and categories guides one's knowledge of and search for traditional media. However multi-media has not been networked or appropriated in this way. There is no set "academic" multi-media, "trash" multi-media, etc. Sources like Alta Vista and Yahoo are starting catalogs for websites but they are not specialized in the way that the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature or the Book Review Index are. The point here is that when we pick up a book, magazine, journal, or newspaper, we are in effect choosing to identify the type of reading we are doing and perhaps identifying ourselves, as well. Most people understand The New Yorker to be for more high-minded people than the National Inquirer. Each source speaks to and identifies a specific audience, articulating a vision of the world. Websites are not (yet) distinguished in this way. When we approach a new website, it is with fewer preconceived notions about the author, other readers, and content. Websites are more open for appropriation by less prominent social groups or individuals who wish to articulate alternative visions of the world. (61)
Yet another way in which websites are different than more traditional media is in their use. Use is of course intimately related to design and "newness." The web is becoming increasingly commercialized. It is rare to see a commercial now that doesn't end with a phone number and URL. The Internet is also more widely accessed by non-corporate users, through its availability through educational institutions and private companies such as America Online. So, just as Shapin and Schaffer show how a set of technologies becomes associated with a type of knowledge and a particular social group, our "more traditional media" are embedded within a network of institutions, conventions, and texts (such as the Readers' Guide). Each type of text represents a social group and a type of knowing. But the web, embedded within a different and more diverse set of institutions and readers, may lend itself to more diversity in approach, use, and interpretation. While Noble presents himself from a very clear ideological perspective and writes within a well-defined tradition, Meehan's institutional and ideological alliances are more difficult to figure out. Meehan's audience may also be more varied, and more likely to read and interpret in different and perhaps divergent ways.
So how might the use of the world wide web reconfigure the terms of a reader's interaction with the text? I think that in each sense that I have mentioned, the reader's participation and performance is much more evident, important, and flexible in the multi-media history than in the more traditional history. I think that history is normally presented as a set of distant, distinct events which people just learn and accept. Yet, as the National History Standards debates show, the inclusion and exclusion of social groups and events from history can be taken personally. We do not just interact with the histories and myths we learn on a detached, objective level. These narratives enable us to locate ourselves within historical trends and groups. In short, the reader is not merely a passive reader, but one who is actively and significantly engaged in the formulation of self-identity through a dialogue with the text. I think that Meehan's journeys embody and model this type of conversation between historical "facts," characters, and narratives and one's own life, concerns, and self-perceptions.
As the National History Standards debates demonstrate, the conversations surrounding the political character of history tend to focus on social groups and group politics, where the groups are presumed to be relatively homogenous. Meehan's website, however, focuses on the individual; it is a story about an individual's negotiation of identity within a set of universalizing narratives. Meehan isn't just a scientist, or an academic, or a religious person. He weaves the strands of categorized narratives around himself and others, to show how the identities we participate in and perform speak to many types of knowledge.
As I pointed out earlier, Meehan's website doesn't represent complete freedom. The reader must enter and journey in a specific way, given designated choices. There is no such thing as complete "liberation," and I doubt we would want such a thing anyway. We need the boundaries; they protect us from relativism. But by giving the reader numerous paths to follow, and by writing in a medium with fewer conventions, Meehan creates a space within which the reader may cultivate a sense of multiplicity.
For Meehan, order comes from participation in social categories. These categories are not deterministic. Since we all participate in a variety of them and acknowledge them, we may retain the ability to communicate with and among different individuals and groups. In a sense, Meehan's use of social groups to retain order is similar to both Noble's book as well as Shapin and Schaffer's book. All three use social understandings to provide order and communication. But for Noble, social groups represent and provide unified identities. For him, agency arises only out of membership in these unified social groups. For Shapin and Schaffer, unified social understandings and identities are normative, and multiplicity arises during times of change. For Shapin and Schaffer, individuals have the agency to redraw boundaries during periods of multiplicity. For Meehan, social understandings bridge the spaces between individuals with multiple identities. Individuals have agency when they can call upon various social understandings as tools for understanding themselves and others. Even though these authors use social understandings to provide for order, the way in which individual identities and agency are embedded in these social understandings are very different.
Histories do not just model identities, as I have shown-- they model agents. Noble, for example, uses individuals as representatives of social groups because his object of analysis is the social group; social groups, for him, are agents of change. Shapin and Schaffer show how individuals may be agents of change through their relationship with various technologies and institutions. Meehan demonstrates how individuals are agents within the negotiation of personal identities. In each case, as the authors construct agents, they simultaneously construct both themselves and the reader as agents. Noble presents himself from within specific ideological perspective, while he creates a position for the reader as a member of the American public. Shapin and Schaffer are two individuals who have inscribed in a literary technology an understanding of the boundaries between science and politics. Their readers are receivers of this knowledge. Meehan portrays himself in multiple roles and relationships, and he places the reader in the position to do the same.
I do not believe, however, that the reader has no agency. On the contrary, the reader has a lot of agency: he or she does not have to accept wholeheartedly the position that the authors offer him or her. The reader has a whole spectrum of possible actions and understandings at hand. Yet, the importance of the authors' emplotments of identity, agency, and avenues of social change should not be forgotten. These understandings of identity and agency may not immediately transform the reader into a Noble or a Shapin or a Meehan. By providing options that the readers may not have thought of previously, or reinforcing those options that the readers have already thought of or been exposed to, the authors may subtly change the way in which the readers interpret their experiences, perform their identities, and participate in the world. To borrow a phrase from Haraway, "the line between [history] and lived experience is an optical illusion." (62)
In other words, these understandings of identity and agency are not trapped in books (or websites, etc.), they extend out into the world, just as the world extends into books (and websites, etc.). Histories represent, not "reality as a whole, but specifically human reality." (63) Thus people are both the subjects and objects of historical study. The constitution of people as objects of study takes place within the texts but the authors attempt to extend and apply this constitution to the reader. The authors attempt to configure the point of view and the agency of the reader. This configuration may not immediately transform the reader, but it may open to the reader new ways of thinking about his or her own experiences and involvement in social change, social order, and social identity.
Also, these models of identity may then be used to legitimate specific categories of historical analysis, such as race, religion, and gender. By allowing for a multiplied national identity, national history, and national experience, people such as Takaki may then look for and reify difference among the U.S. population. Histories are legitimized by the expectations and experiences of their audiences, and the audiences' expectations are legitimized by histories. In my introduction I said that the creation of different types of agents has wider implications in the ongoing discussions of the political nature of history. What I mean is that in order for a group such as women or Asians to be legitimated as a historically important social group, the group has to somehow be located in the existing models of identity. Or, the existing models of identity may be changed in order to incorporate increasingly politically active groups. In the case of the National History Standards debates, people such as Hirsch probably do not believe that women and Asians are inherently powerless or unimportant. But because Hirsch cannot account for diversity within his model of national identity, he cannot embrace difference in historical textbooks. Takaki, on the other hand, may embrace multiple identities because they further the reassertion of the voices of minority groups (such as the one to which he belongs). I think that in order to understand the tensions surrounding these debates, we must examine how issues of group legitimation and power inform and are informed by understandings of identity and agency.
However, a problem intimately related to these understandings of identity and agency is that of social order. Shapin and Schaffer looked at how scientific knowledge was constructed as a solution to the problem of social order. In this thesis I see history as another way of knowing, and another kind of solution to the problem of social order. Hirsch doesn't hold onto his conception of unitary national identity just because he is stubborn or racist; he holds onto it because he believes that this model of national identity may provide order and communication. (64) In contrast, Takaki holds onto his conception of multiple national identity not because he is a liberal or an anarchist, but because he believes that this model will enable us to enter a better type of social order, in which different groups may communicate with each other because they have been exposed to a multiplicity of historical experiences. Writing about history is not merely a matter of transmitting facts about the past. It is a mediating process, a struggle for legitimation in which the stakes are extremely high. In this thesis I propose that historians, through their histories, may preserve and promote interrelated ideas about agency, identity, and social order.
Let me now briefly summarize the points of each section. Noble, with his lens of unity and boundedness, places agency in social groups which are static and unified in identity and goals. Noble then places the reader within the large social group of those subscribing to American myths of technological transcendence, and exhorts him or her to change his or her attitudes about technology. Noble guides the reader specifically to one type of understanding, removing the reader from the process of interpretation. His narrative strategy gives the reader a specific position to fill -- he gives the reader a place within American society and a path of social change to follow. The reader may choose to reject Noble's theory and refuse the position Noble offers him or her. On the other hand, the reader may also accept that position wholeheartedly. The same strategies which make Forces of Production a well-written book also give the reader a specific sense of what his or her role is within the social attitudes and changes that Noble talks about.
Shapin and Schaffer recreate the beliefs and characters of Boyle and Hobbes through the technologies that Boyle and Hobbes used to disseminate ideas about knowledge and social order. Both Boyle and Hobbes are not essentially scientists or political theorists; their theories are simultaneously scientific and political. Through literary, material, and social technologies, Boyle was able to impose his idea of experimentation on society. In the process he set up strict boundaries around specific types of practices, spaces, and social groups. Through Leviathan and the Air-Pump, Shapin and Schaffer rewrite the boundaries and in the end, attempt to reassert Hobbes' position of a unified social body. The reader is on the receiving end of the literary technology Shapin and Schaffer have created; he or she learns to question the categorization of Boyle as a scientist and Hobbes as a political theorist.
Meehan, with his lens of multiplicity, uses social roles and categories as points of navigation for individual identities. These individual identities are fluid conglomerations of different social themes and concerns. Through our multiple aspects and within the framework of our social understandings, we may each communicate with others as well as pursue our goals and desires. Within the website the reader uses social categories as starting points, but afterwards may move to a more fluid, partial identity among characters who also have multiple aspects. Meehan forces the reader to participate in the website, giving no summary or designated endpoint.
In these examples, I noticed several interesting trends. Noble focuses almost exclusively on the social level, with individuals only serving to reinforce his points about social groups; Shapin and Schaffer examine both the individual and social levels; and Meehan focuses almost exclusively on the individual, while using social groups as a background. However, even while the focus shifts to the individual, the social realm remains an important source of order and communication. Noble's static social groups remain constant, and thus offer stability during changing attitudes towards technology. Shapin and Schaffer demonstrate how construction of scientific knowledge entails construction and enforcement of wider notions of social order. And despite Meehan's focus on individuals and their various aspects, he uses understandings of social categories such as science and religion as a means of allowing individuals to understand and relate to each other. The social realm, it seems, offers protection from chaos and relativism. Its position within the historical analysis may change, but its importance for social order remains constant.
Also, as I moved from an author who looks through a lens of unity to an author who looks through a lens of multiplicity, the relative positions of technology changed, both within the text and within the interaction between author and reader. Noble sees technology as occupying an overly prominent place in discussions of national and social identities, and wants us to look almost exclusively at the actions and values of people. Shapin and Schaffer give technology a very prominent role in their analysis as that which bridges the space between the individual and the social realm. For these two authors, technology is an essential ingredient for the concoction of social understandings and social boundaries. For Shapin and Schaffer, technology enables individuals to be identified as a "scientist" or "political theorist;" technology also enables individuals such as Boyle to propagate defining characteristics of groups such as the "experimental community." In Meehan's website, the role of technology in human identity becomes even more explicit. By using the web, Meehan both exposes and exploits the participation of the reader in the work he or she is reading. For Meehan, technology is a lens through which we interact with others, read texts, and understand nature, science, and ourselves. Technology plays into these models of identity in various ways. (65) Within the examples I've examined, the more multiplied the identities are, the more technology is integrated into individual and social negotiations of identity.
In this thesis I have demonstrated how the role of the historian is a public role, (66) as the historian preserves the potential for social order, or at least creates solutions to the problem of social order. Despite the changes in conceptions of identity, these histories provide us with solutions to the threat of relativism. Even if it is the end of the world as we know it, these histories ensure that it is not the end of knowing the world. (67)
The backdrop of the film is the possible end of the world, caused by a dysfunctional satellite. The main character Claire is a married woman who roams the world looking for a man named Sam Farber who stole some money from her, but with whom she is in love. Her husband, some bounty hunters, and government agents follow her on the search for Farber. Their search is conducted by following Farber's technological traces as he travels through the world.
Although the end of the world may be near, the characters of the film are completely absorbed in their own lives, experiments, and problems. Sam Farber and his father are obsessed with giving Farber's mother her sight back by recording other people's visions. Later Farber, his father, and Claire begin to record their own dreams, and become obsessed with their previously lost memories, desires, and experiences. Each eventually turns completely inward, glued to the portable screens which display the recordings of their dreams. The obsession with dreams becomes an addiction which prevents any communication. Farber's father dies, ending his addiction. Farber ends his addiction by sleeping between two men who "take his dreams away." Claire's husband rescues her and confines her without any more batteries for her portable player. She suffers from severe withdrawal, ignoring her husband and the rest of the world.
Claire's addiction, to me, represents the threat of relativism. Claire, by completely immersing herself in her own experiences and visions, loses touch with the rest of the world. The technology which was originally designed to allow people to share their visions instead results in a complete isolation. Claire no longer communicates with others, she no longer has empathy for others, and no one else may communicate with her as she only looks into her monitor -- into herself.
Claire is saved by her husband, who writes a book about the experiences which are the subject of the film. He gives the book to Claire, who becomes cured of her addiction through reading the book. The book is about Claire, so it appeals to her own experiences just as her dreams did, but the book is about Claire in relationship to Farber, to her husband, and to the others that she encountered. The book rewrites and relinks the connections between Claire and others in the world. The book is the communicative link which allows Claire to participate in the world again.
Technology figures into many parts of the film. Technology is what threatens the world; technology is the means through which Farber may be traced; technology enables Claire and Farber to transfer their vision to Farber's blind mother; technology is what later hinders Claire and Farber from communicating with others as they become lost in their dreams. Technology enables communication and simultaneously threatens communication. Technology enables relativism (which is in a sense an end to the world) by giving people the ability to focus only inward, yet technology also facilitates communication, connection, and continued meaningful existence with others, which is the opposite condition of relativism. The way that Claire and others know that the world hasn't ended is through the radio. The promise of a continued existence in a connected state revives both Claire, individually, and the world, collectively.
This film highlights the connection between issues of technology, identity,
and agency, as well as the threat of relativism and the importance of connection
and communication. Like many other movies, "Until the End of the World"
embraces relationships between technology and identity, and moves beyond
a dichotomous representation of technology as either as a threat or as
a solution. This film highlights the continuity of constructions of the
individual and the social. On a worldwide level, the satellite which enables
us to know the world also threatens to destroy the world. On the individual
level, the Farbers have created a technology which both enables the blind
to see (extending and sharing vision between people) but also causes the
destruction of shared and extended visions. This film explores the paradoxes
created through the continual reinscription of individual and social identities
in relation to technology.
Life Goes On
This thesis is about identity: mine as much as anyone else's. Writing this was a way for me to think about my own roles and own multiple identities, as a student, daughter, friend, STS-er, history co-term, possible future academic, possible future truck-driver, reader, writer, and coffee-drinker. The numerous drafts and transformations this thesis went through reflect changes in the ways I was thinking about myself, the context(s) I was in, my goals and purposes, my insecurities and fears, and my hopes for the future. Although this paper has a conclusion, this negotiation continues on. My interpretation of my own work will most likely continue to change as I change and reevaluate myself within the context of the numerous roles and identities I assume.
The structure of "Ignatius" is primarily non-linear. The website consists of many "episodes," which are pages of text and pictures centered around one person, theme, or event. In one episode, Ignatius describes his book Ragnorak. Another consists of a letter written by a woman named Cessair to Meehan, about her research on Sumeria. (70) Yet another is a graphical depiction of paleoclimatic data from ice cores and other sources. (71) The episodes vary in tone, combination of text and visuals, voice, and length. One may move from episode to episode through links either within the text or at the end of the episode. A reader may also go directly to episodes through the index. There is a general index, as well as indices of voices, themes, places and times. (72) The episodes are not ordered temporally.
The reader enters the web site at a type of home page, but Meehan does not provide a designated exit; the reader may explore the site in many different orders. Any given page has several links to other pages, any of which the reader may follow. In the home page, the reader is invited to follow the character of Ignatius Donnelly or to take one of three paths: Science, Love, or Religion. (73)
The "Three Paths" page (74) sets the stage for the web site as kind of a virtual journey, with its choice between three "paths" and the picture of trails leading through grass. The metaphor of a journey is carried out on several levels. First, the explorer of the website must step his or her way through the website, episode by episode, with each episode functioning in different times and places, with a variety of characters. But along the way the explorer will meet the character of Dick Meehan, the author, who is himself embarking on a journey. He is researching themes of the end of the world, hiking along the creek, and developing an important relationship with a young woman named Cessair. Finally, the other characters within the episode are also involved in journeys of their own, relating to the end of the world, science, religion, and love. Ignatius Donnelly, a nineteenth century visionary and Minnesota Congressman, is just one of these characters. The structure of the web site, with all of its links and choices, engages the reader in a journey as well -- a virtual journey. By being asked to choose a "path to the end of the world," the reader participates in the intertwined journeys of the author and characters within the narratives.
Although the paths of Science, Love, and Religion are portrayed at the beginning as separate trails leading in different directions, they actually intersect at a number of points. A person who begins on the Science path and one who begins in Love may end up having similar journeys -- choices during the journey are more important than the path one picks in the beginning. Thus not only are all of the journeys intertwined, all of the paths are intertwined as well. However, there is no designated ending point, no designated finish to the piece. While the theme is the "End of the World," Meehan's world has no end. The explorer may wander until he or she has explored every episode, or leave at will.
Because "Ignatius Donnelly and the End of the World" is still under construction, the comments that I have made about it may not completely apply to future forms of the website. I hope, however, that the comments I make about the general structure and model of identity embedded in the website will still be applicable.
General index: http://www.stanford.edu/~meehan/donnelly/pagelist.html
Holocene events: http://www.stanford.edu/~meehan/donnelly/holo.html
1. Please see the epilogue for a discussion of the title.
2. See, for instance, Hayden White, The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987) .
3. I use this word to refer to a "entire field of signifying or meaningful practices: those social interactions-- material, institutional, and linguistic-- through which reality is interpreted and constructed for us and with which human knowledge is produced and reproduced." (Edwards, 34, emphasis in original). For a more detailed discussion on the term "discourse," see Paul N. Edwards, The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996) 30-40.
4. Historians may also appropriate contemporary statistical tools.
5. See, for example, Ronald Takaki, A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1993) . Some other publications on the National History Standards: National Standards For World History. Expanded ed. (Los Angeles : National Center for History in the Schools, University of California, 1994); National Standards For World History. Expanded ed. (Los Angeles : National Center for History in the Schools, University of California, 1994) ; National Center for History in the Schools (US). National Standards For History For Grades K-4. Expanded ed. (Los Angeles, CA : The Center, )
6. Takaki, 3.
7. Sherry Turkle, Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995), 260.
8. The following passage depicts relativism:
In Mexico City they somehow wandered into an exhibition of paintings by the beautiful Spanish exile Remedios Varo: in the central painting of a triptych, titled, "Bordando el Manto Terrestre," were a number of frail girls with heart-shaped faces, huge eyes, spun-gold hair, prisoners in the top room of a circular tower embroidering a kind of tapestry which spilled out the slit windows and into a void, seeking hopelessly to fill the void: for all the other buildings and the creatures, all the waves, ships and forests of the earth were contained in this tapestry, and the tapestry was the world. (Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49, 21)
This passage represents the postmodernism as potential tragedy, isolation, and alienation. The frail girls with heart-shaped faces live in a self-contained world of their own creation, but it is a world with no external referents, no possibilities for communication and empathy, and of relativism. If each person lives in his or her own tower and weaves narratives of identity without connecting with anyone else, what use are they? Pynchon's words evoke not the promise of "liberation," but the tragedy of a lifetime of uncertainty and loneliness.
9. Donna Haraway, "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century", in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, (London and New York: Routledge, 1991), 149-181.
10. Emily Martin, Flexible Bodies: The Role of Immunity in American Culture from the Days of Polio to the Age of AIDS (Boston: Beacon Press, 1994) .
11. See Judith P. Butler, Gender trouble : feminism and the subversion of identity (New York: Routledge, 1990) and Allucquere Rosanne Stone, "The ÔEmpire' Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto," in J. Epstein & K. Straub, eds., Body Guards: The Cultural Politics of Gender Ambiguity (New York: Routledge, 1991).
12. See Sherry Turkle, Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995) and Allucquere Rosanne Stone, "Violation and Virtuality: Two cases of physical and psychological boundary transgression and their implications," Available from: gopher://home.actlab.utexas.edu:70/00/art_and_tech/stone_papers/violation-and-virtuality.
13. Turkle, 260.
14. Turkle, 261.
15. See also Chris Lorenz, "Historical Knowledge and Historical Reality: A Plea for 'Internal Realism'," History and Theory 33, 3 (1994): 297-327. Lorenz argues that there is a direct linkage between history and identity. He uses the example of the Historikerstreit, a debate among German historians over how to interpret Nazi atrocities within the context of German history.
16. Takaki, 3.
17. For discussion on "flexibility," see Emily Martin, Flexible Bodies.
18. STS Department, "Faculty and Staff News," STS Newsletter 2, 2 (Spring 1995).
20. David Noble, Forces of Production: A Social History of Industrial Automation (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984), ix. Noble, x-xi.
21. This is my word choice, not his. See Madeline Akrich, "The De-Scription of Technical Objects," in W. E. Bijker & J. Law, eds., Shaping Technology/Building Society (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992): 205-224.
22. Haraway talks about the power of science fiction to do exactly the same thing: "The line between science fiction and lived experience is an optical illusion." (Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women, 149) Thus all texts allow us to reimagine and relocate ourselves within "reality," and therefore are instrumental in shaping our actions, what we think of as possible actions, and what we think of as the most likely/best actions.
23. The first hint is Noble's first quote: "Instruments of labor not only supply a standard of the degree of development which human labor has attained, but they are also indicators of the social conditions under which that labor is carried on." Karl Marx, Capital, I.
24. For instance, "John Diebold of the Harvard Business School recognizedÉ" (Noble, 161); "Novelist Kurt Vonnegut, a GE publicist at the timeÉ" (Noble, 160); and "É General Electric engineer Lowell HolmesÉ" (Noble, 83).
25. Noble, 96-105.
26. Noble, 100.
27. Noble, 191-192.
28. See, for instance, Bruno Latour, Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers through Society (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987): 2.
29. Noble, ix.
30. Noble, 353.
31. Noble, 351.
32. Steven Shapin & Simon Schaffer, Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985): 25.
33. Shapin and Schaffer, 20.
34. Shapin and Schaffer, 30.
35. Shapin and Schaffer, 15, emphasis in original.
36. Shapin and Schaffer, 15.
37. Shapin and Schaffer, 23.
38. Shapin and Schaffer, 23.
39. Shapin and Schaffer, 11.
40. Shapin and Schaffer, 69.
41. Shapin and Schaffer, 337.
42. Shapin and Schaffer, 344.
43. The authors talk about how by publishing descriptions of his experiments, Boyle was able to create a group of "virtual witnesses" to the experiments. See Shapin and Schaffer, 60-65.
44. Shapin and Schaffer, 225.
45. Shapin and Schaffer, 226.
46. Shapin and Schaffer, 284.
47. Shapin and Schaffer, 344.
48. Please see Appendix A for a description of this website, and Appendix B for some URL listings.
49. See Butler, Judith P. Gender trouble : feminism and the subversion of identity. New York: Routledge, 1990. In other words, identities are not just imposed on individuals (by some mysterious social or discursive framework); individuals reenact and perform identities in their actions, thoughts, and perception of experiences.
52. Each portrayal of historical character is part posturing, performance, and fiction. Throughout the virtual journey, the reader encounters historical characters. Meehan's web site highlights how people may react to these characters in very personal ways. I think that Meehan is trying to sculpt our interaction with history itself through the types of personas he develops. He is teaching us not to perceive history as something distant and distinct, but something that we may examine on a personal and creative level. (He is not just uncovering "the facts" but shaping them, incorporating them, and dreaming about them!)
53. By classifying Donnelly as a "politician," one could say that that in itself is a performance. We view others in a way which accords with our assumptions about what kinds of identities are possible.
54. One might object that in a biography, individuals are presented in a variety of roles and therefore have multiplied identities, so the opposition I'm discussing is not between unity and multiplicity but between social history and biography. However, biographies have another type of unity-- they are unified in that they attempt to present one person's entire life as a continuous story, usually trying to demonstrate how a particular individual accumulated the attributes which allowed him or her to become a famous politician or scientists or athlete, etc. Autobiographies, while they represent many aspects of an individuals' life, are written precisely because that individual has become an icon of a particular group or ideal. In this website, Meehan presents Donnelly in his many roles, but also in many different discontinuous episodes. Because Meehan does not provide a summary, foreshadowing, or conclusory remarks which privilege a specific episode over any other, this website doesn't have the same kind of unity or continuity as a biography does.
In one sense, this website is a mixture of history, fiction, and autobiography, because of Meehan's placement of himself as author and participant in some episodes. Again, Meehan doesn't represent his own life as cumulative; he does not have an epiphany or any type of dramatic closure; he never tells us what conclusions (if any) he has reached from his research on the biblical flood, his relationship with Cessair, or his engineering practice. These threads converge and diverge at various points in the website; Meehan often doesn't even provide us with the temporal contexts within which each episode takes place. Thus I don't think that the multiple aspects of his identity and experience could be seen as unified.
56. Meehan includes many voices and perspectives into his web site. By including such a multiplicity of voices and perspectives one must question the innate truth value of any narrative. To what can one account capture the "truth"? Also, by situating the voices of individuals within their respective paths, Meehan makes explicit connections between what those people say and what context they said it in.
57. STS Department, "Faculty and Staff News," STS Newsletter 2, 2 (Spring 1995). http://www.stanford.edu/group/STS/newsletter2.html#facultystaffnews
58. See Jean Baudrillard, Simulations (New York: Semiotext[e], 1983).
59. For want of a better phrase, I'll call books, journals, etc. "more traditional media."
60. This has implications for our study of history. History is often presented as cumulative (notions of progress, events effecting each other like dominos, etc.) with events affecting each other in temporal order. Yet we don't necessarily study or learn about events in the order they occur. If we learn events in different orders, within different contexts, will we see them in different ways?
61. I think that the Internet becomes a space where groups may inscribe their visions of the world. I believe it functions similar to the "ether" in Susan J. Douglas, Inventing American Broadcasting 1899-1922 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987) .
62. Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women, 149. She says, "The line between science fiction and lived experience is an optical illusion." In other words, what we read may allow us to rethink our experiences by opening up options which we previously hadn't conceived of. See footnote 22.
63. Carr, 19, emphasis in original.
64. As demonstrated by his earlier quote about the tower of Babel.
65. Technology is not deterministic. For this thesis I have chosen a website to represent a multiplied account of identity, but that doesn't mean that books cannot also contain multiplied accounts. I believe that Donna Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge, 1991) is a good example of a book which posits a multiplied understanding of identity.
66. One might say that the historian has an ethical role as well. Multiplicity does not guarantee equality or increased acceptance between groups. I think that to equate multiplicity and "liberation" is both irresponsible and deceptive. One must show how multiplicity will lead to specific avenues of freedom, for specific types of people and groups.
67. From "It's the end of the world as we know it," a song by R.E.M. This song is also on the soundtrack to the film "Until the End of the World." Please see the epilogue for an explanation of the film's relationship to this thesis.
68. "Until the end of the world, " produced by Australian Film Finance Corporation Pty Limited, Road Movies Filmproduktion GmbH and Argos Films SA ; Warner Bros., (Burbank, Calif., 1991).
69. STS Department, "Faculty and Staff News," STS Newsletter 2, 2 (Spring 1995). http://www.stanford.edu/group/STS/newsletter2.html#facultystaffnews
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