Lectures & Conferences

The Science of Information, 1870-1945:
The Universalization of Knowledge in a Utopian Age

February 23-25, 2017



Opening Reception and Keynote Address

Thursday, February 23, 2017, 6pm


Michael Gordin

Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History, Princeton University

Speaking Scientific Internationalism

To be held at the Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry at the Chemical Heritage Foundation
315 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19106 (map).

The lecture begins at 6:00 pm with a welcome by Carin Berkowitz, Director, Beckman Center, and opening remarks by Evan Hepler-Smith, Harvard University.
All registered attendees are invited to the following reception at 7:00 pm.


Friday, February 24, 2017

To be held in Kleinman Center for Energy Policy
(Fisher Fine Arts Building, 4th Floor,
220 S 34th St, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (map).


[Preliminary schedule. Subject to change]

9:00 - 9:30 am Coffee and Registration

9:30 - 9:45 am Welcome

H. Carton Rogers III, Vice Provost & Director of Libraries, University of Pennsylvania


9:45 -11:00 am Session I: Universal Science

Alex Csiszar, Harvard University

Legislating an International Scientific Polity ca. 1900: Fantasies of Access and Empire

Geert Somsen, Maastricht University

Unscathed Universalism: Scientific Internationalism through the Krieg der Gelehrten

Moderator: Projit Bihari Mukharji, History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania


11:00 - 11:15 am Coffee


11:15 am -12:30 pm Session 2: Codifying Universalism

Teresa Davis, Princeton University

Universalism at the Margins: Codifying International Law in South America, 1889-1930

Eva Hemmungs Wirtén, Linköping University

A Dangerous Utopia: The Curious Case of Scientific Property

Moderator: Peter Decherney, English & Cinema Studies, University of Pennsylvania


12:30 - 2:00 pm Lunch Break


2:00 - 3:15 pm Session 3: Universal Words

Rachel Sagner Buurma, Swarthmore College

Henry Wheatley's General Index: Knowledge Organization, Fictional Representation, and Information Utopianism in the 1870s

Evan Hepler-Smith, Harvard University

Chemical Nomenclature and the Particulars of Universalism, 1910-1930

Moderator: Etienne Benson, History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania


3:15 - 3:30 pm Coffee


3:30 pm -4:45 pm Session 4: Ordering the Universe of Information

Peter Lor, University of Pretoria

In the Background: The Development of International Librarianship during the Period 1870 – 1945

W. Boyd Rayward, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Conceptualizing and Attempting to Realize a New International Information Order: The Ideas and Work of Paul Otlet (1868-1944)

Moderator: Ronald Brashear, Othmer Library, Chemical Heritage Foundation


4:45 Discussion


Saturday, February 25, 2017

9:15 - 9:45 am Coffee


9:45 - 11:00 am Session 5:  Ordering the Universe of Information (cont)

Steven Witt, Center for Global Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Creating the International Mind: Promoting Peace and the Global Society through Books, Dialogue, and Cultural Exchange, 1917-1938

Lynn Ransom, Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, University of Pennsylvania Libraries

Ernest Cushing Richardson: An American Librarian in an Internationalist Age

Moderator: Jon Shaw, University of Pennsylvania Libraries


11:00 - 11:30 am Coffee


11:30 am - 12:45 pm Session 6: Universalism by Design

Robert Kargon, The Johns Hopkins University

The Geography of Knowledge: William Pepper, Jr. and the Advancement of Learning in Philadelphia, 1870-1900

Nader Vossoughian, New York Institute of Technology

Internationalism under National Socialism: Architects' Data and the Standardization of Knowledge (1933-1945)

Moderator: David S. Barnes, History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania


12:45 - 2:15 pm Lunch Break


2:15 - 3:30 pm Session 7: Universalism and War

Alistair Black, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"All information flows toward it, or returns to it in a form worked up into shape": The Intelligence Branch and Libraries of the British War Office, 1873-1914

Kathy Peiss, University of Pennsylvania

Information as Warfare: The American Transformation of the Internationalist Vision in WWII

Moderator: Mitch Fraas, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania Libraries


3:30 - 3:45 pm Coffee


3:45 pm - 4:30 pm Closing Session

Robert Fox, University of Oxford

Universal Knowledge as Utopia and Myth

Moderator: Carin Berkowitz, Beckman Center, Chemical Heritage Foundation 

4:30 - 5:00pm Open Discussion

5:00 - 6:00 pm Closing Reception

Return to the Science of Information Symposium overview.