Assignments An extensive Bibliography is at the course website


Essay 1. (30%) A specific Nobel. Pick one Nobel Prize and explore the achievement, the winners, the losers, the stakeholders, and its impact. Consider why that particular discovery was seen to be important at that particular time, and consider what other historians have said (or not said) about it. How does your research on this prize relate to early course readings on discovery in science? Primary sources should include publications and autobiographical statements by the laureates themselves, contemporary reception in newspapers and journals, and historical work on the subject. Due 1 week after your own presentation.


Class Presentation: (25%) should be based on the research for Essay no. 1. Assign the class a related reading (needed 2 weeks before your presentation). Your presentation must include a short summary on the Nobel achievement and should foster a discussion on the subject knowing that the class will have read the one article related to your topic. Date & topic chosen by week 3.


Esssay Proposal for 2nd Essay (15%)—select topic (see below), frame question, identify some sources. Due by week 7.


Essay no. 2 (30%) A more general, historiographic topic. Examine a theme in Nobel lore by comparing and contrasting at least two Nobel prizes and the histories of them. Due end of course.


Choose your own topic! Sample topics

Names refer to Nobel laureates or to items in bibliography.

      Nobel controversies (eg. Kantha, McCarthy, Sayre, Wainright, Watson, Weatherall)

      Nobel surgery (eg Swan, Schlich, Feliciano)

      Nobel psychiatry (eg Gorelick)

      Nobel disasters (eg. 1926, 1948, 1949)

      Nobel psychiatry (eg Gorelick, Lopez-Munoz, Frankenberg))

      Nobel Labs and Universities (eg Thorndike, Rockefeller, etc.)

      Trends in Nobel genetics/immunology/vitamins/hormones/virology/cancer

      Future laureates--topics that generate a "race"(eg. Charlton, Kevles, Dechend)

      Nobel philosophers (eg. Jacob, Monod, Medawar, Carrel, Kandel)

      Women laureates ( eg. Hackier, Opfell, Quinn, Sayre, Zuckerman)

      Jewish laureates (eg Levitan)

      Canadian Laureates and their Repurtations (eg. Banting, McLeod; Polanyi; Smith; Hubbel; Taube)

      Other National laureates (eg Australia, Italy, etc.)

      Nobel tales for children (eg Aaseng, Hacker, McGrayne)

      Non-laureates--people/topics who should have won? Unsung heroes  (eg. Chagas, Dubos, Funk, Gallo,  Rossiter, Sayre, Sime, Wainwright)

      Nobel credibility gap: autobiography vs. historical account  (hard work! contrast acceptance speeches with historical accounts)

      Debunking Nobel Laureates (Carrel, Fleming, Gadjusek, Baltimore, Mullis)

      Drug Industry, Commerce, and Scientific Research (1939, 1988)

      Lag time—discovery to prize—any change? grow longer, shorter? why?