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The Invention of the Bicycle

This lecture uses the fascinating history of the bicycle to explore three central questions that animate the study of technology: 1.) How and why do "inventions" appear in particular times and places, and who should receive "credit" for them? 2.) Why do particular design paths tend to become standardized and "locked-in" so that alternative forms of a technology, however promising, disappear? 3.) How are technologies shaped by social, economic, even political forces, and conversely, how do new technologies disrupt or transform society? We will explore these issues by examining the largely unknown story of the bicycles evolution in 19th-century America.

Faculty Member: Mike Guenther
Discussion Date: Nov. 2, 2021 at noon

Meet Professor Guenther

Mike Guenther began teaching at Grinnell College in 2007, having received his B.A. from the University of Virginia, and his M.A. & Ph.D from Northwestern University. A historian of science, technology and the environment, he is currently finishing a book project (tentatively entitled, Science and Civic Culture: the Politics of Knowledge in the Age of Improvement) that explores the political role that scientific networks and institutions played in the eighteenth-century British Empire in the run-up to the American Revolution. In addition to teaching courses on the history of science, British history, and American environmental history, he has helped direct two interdisciplinary programs at Grinnell: 1.) Technology Studies and 2.) Science, Medicine & Society. He has also taught several courses at Newton Correctional Facility as part of Grinnell’s Liberal Arts in Prison Program (LAPP).

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Tuesday November 2
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
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