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HPS Talks – Mario Biagioli

November 23, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

McGill University
History and Philosophy of Science
Histoire et philosophie des sciences

Fall 2009 Series / Série d’automne 2009

(avec nos excuses si vous recevez ce message plus d’une fois / with
apologies for cross-posting)

We are delighted to announce our final event this semester, the visit
of Mario Biagioli on Friday, 4 December.
Please note that Prof. Biagioli is giving two talks on the same day:
a public lecture in the evening (at 6pm), on his recent work on
intellectual property, and a more informal workshop-style talk at
lunchtime (12:30), which will deal with early modern as well as
modern science.
All are welcome. Note that the public lecture will be followed by a
wine & cheese reception.

(Feel free to circulate this information on other lists)

——

Friday 4 December, 12:30pm

Mario Biagioli (Harvard)
From Windmills to Methods: the Strange History of “Invention”

This seminar will be held in the Lounge (room 102),
Social Studies of Medicine Building,
3647 rue Peel (above Dr Penfield).

——

(The D. Lorne Gales Lecture in the History of Science)

Mario Biagioli
(Harvard University)

Environmentalism and the Rethinking of Intellectual Property

Friday 4 December, 6pm
Otto Maass Auditorium
Maass Chemistry Building, room 112,
McGill University, 801 Sherbrooke St W

Abstract:
The image of the “commons” (knowledge commons, science commons,
creative commons, etc.) has been extraordinarily important in the
development of “cultural environmentalism” – perhaps the most
important progressive discourse about intellectual property today.
Cultural environmentalists champion collaborative modes of knowledge
production and the defense of the public domain against the
increasingly intensive and extensive privatization of knowledge.
Although a strong supporter of the political goals of that movement,
I am concerned by the use of environmental imagery to reconceptualize
intellectual property. Starting from critiques of the nature/society
dichotomy put forward by science studies practitioners, I argue that
the proponents of the “knowledge commons” start with a well-
intentioned critique of intellectual property, but end up reinforcing
its logic. Because the image of the “commons” and other environmental
metaphors do not question the nature/society divide at the roots of
intellectual property law, they actually end up reinforcing that
which they are meant to question. I begin to sketch out that approach
by showing how one of the foundational texts of copyright law –
Edward Young’s 1759 Conjectures on Original Composition – cannot
maintain the very dichotomy it sets out to establish between nature
and society, and ends up casting the author, literally, as a vegetable.

Mario Biagioli, Professor of the History of Science at Harvard
University, is the author of Galileo, Courtier (1993) and Galileo’s
Instruments of Credit (2006); and has co-edited Scientific Authorship
(with Peter Galison, 2002), The Science Studies Reader (1999), and
the forthcoming Making and Unmaking Intellectual Property (with Peter
Jaszi and Martha Woodmansee), and Worldly Science (with Jessica
Riskin). His current projects include a book on the history of
authorship, intellectual property, and credit in science (Scientists’
Names and Scientific Claims), and a volume on the role of
environmental imagery in recent intellectual property discourse (The
Author as Vegetable). He has been the recipient of numerous awards
and grants, including a Guggenheim Fellowship. Formerly a
photographer and historian of photography, Prof. Biagioli maintains
strong interests in museum studies and imaging techniques, recently
curating an exhibit of patent models (“Patent Republic”, with Jean-
François Gauvin) and organizing conferences on new media and digital
art (“Recoded: Landscapes and Politics of New Media”, with Kriss Ravetto).

For more information, see http://www.mcgill.ca/hpsc/lectures/ and
http://www.mcgill.ca/hpsc/seminars/
Or contact 514 398 4681

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