This is the long overdue follow-up to last year’s email, to let you know that the Neurohistory forum is up and running at this site: http://www.neurohistory.ucla.edu/neurohistory-web-forum. Our thanks to Lynn Hunt and her group at UCLA for providing the host and tech support. A link to opt-in to a subscription to a mailing list also should have arrived in your inbox. If it hasn't arrived, or got lost or re-directed to your spam folder, please let us the list admin know at firstname.lastname@example.org.I rather regret that students studying history will now be even less likely to read Braudel, Collingwood, Carr, Ginzburg, Hobsbawm, Oakeshott, or Thompson. I can, of course, see how our collective fixation on "ends" and "technology" makes neurohistory the logical replacement of history in the epoch of postmodernity. Yet it is still depressing to think of undergraduates majoring in history reading maintenance manuals of MRI machines and examining EEG prints to detect our paleolithic, hard-wired and inevitably determined patterns of behavior - all in the name of scholarly respectability. It is still sadder to think about the undergraduates majoring in neuroscience who will eventually take a neurohistory course in lieu of a course focused upon Chinese, Japanese, African or European history, and thus have even fewer opportunities to read, for example, Locke, Rousseau, Jefferson, or De Tocqueville.
The contents of the forum are still somewhat skeletal; among other things, we haven’t yet tried to put together anything like a complete bibliography (check under Resources), in part because we need to put more thought into the categories. Under the most expansive understanding of the field, the bibliography could range from psychohistory and some areas of evolutionary psychology to cognitive archaeology and the history of addiction, and from books and articles that constitute solid contributions to the field of neurohistory to important works that make promising allusions. The list of relevant papers in neuroscience alone could go on for pages. Is more necessarily better? We would welcome thoughts about this, as well as any suggestions you might have about content and form. One thing we would certainly like to develop is a page for syllabi or for threads describing how you have worked neurohistorical perspectives into your courses. Please do take a moment to explore the site and send along suggestions or ideas. It would be helpful to constitute a steering committee; if you would like to volunteer, write to Dan Smail at email@example.com.
A final thought: the most challenging course I ever took as an undergraduate was Physical Biochemistry. Trust me: enzyme kinetics, quantum problems are tough going. There is one reason only that I passed that course. I was taking "History of Modern Physics" at the same time, and I was reading the primary sources to the science I was endeavoring to learn by textbook, lecture, and pen and problem. Without the history, I would have been sunk.