Jessica Wang works on nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. history and has pursued a wide range of interests related to the history of science and medicine, U.S. political and intellectual history, political theory, urban and social history, and the history of U.S. foreign relations. Her current book project, "Mad Dogs and Other New Yorkers: Rabies, Medicine, and Public Health in an American Metropolis, 1840-1920," uses the social history of a dread disease to explore urban social geography, the place of domesticated animals in the nineteenth-century city, the nature of physicians' self-fashioning and the place of pathological anatomy in the construction of medical identity, the institutional contexts of medicine, disease, and public health, and the ties between the public-private relationship, urban governance, and American state-building. This research also rests on Wang's longer-term engagement with questions about the social and political contexts of knowledge, ideas, and public authority, which she has also addressed through studies of cold war American science, science and democratic political theory, social science and New Deal political economy, and internationalism and U.S. foreign relations. Her publications include American Science in an Age of Anxiety (1999), as well as articles in the Journal of American History, Isis, Osiris, the Journal of Policy History, Historical studies in the natural sciences, the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, and other forums.
Survey from colonial period to present examining political system, slavery, Civil War, race relations and civil rights, westward expansion, industrialization, feminism, expanding international presence, Cold War, and modern culture. HIST 237A will introduce students to the methods of historical practice, including primary-source analysis, historical writing, library and research skills, and public history.
State, Society, and the Politics of Knowledge
The rise of the modern state depended heavily on the mobilization of knowledge, particularly the creation of new forms of social scientific data that allowed the state to “see,” conceptualize, and manage citizens and subjects. Censuses, maps, tax surveys, public health projects, public education, surveys of land and natural resources, surveys of social conditions, and other forms of social knowledge and action became classic tools of state power from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, and the evolution of public health, agriculture, anthropology and ethnography, geography, political economy, demography, and other areas of social inquiry as academic fields of study were tied closely to the basic mission of modern governance. This tutorial will explore the intertwined history of knowledge and the modern state in both national and colonial contexts from the mid-nineteenth century to the 1970s, with readings drawn from histories of Europe, the United States, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. We will look not just at conventional forms of academic or scientific knowledge, but also at informal ways of knowing—for example, rumor and gossip—as forms of knowledge that undergirded both popular responses to state power as well as the actions of the state itself. In addition to grappling with the nature of the modern state and the state-society nexus, the seminar seeks to address basic questions about knowledge: what is a fact? What counts as information, and why? And how does knowledge shape the possibilities of power?
U.S. emergence as an industrial powerhouse and, eventually, a global superpower; responses to industrial society, meaning of "modern times," economic upheaval and social change, U.S.'s role as a world power, and politics of race, ethnicity, and gender.
U.S. foreign policy and international history, 1775-1945. Examines the American rise to power and political, economic, and cultural relationships between the United States and other peoples, organizations, and states worldwide.
James Burnham Sedgwick, "The Trial Within: Negotiating Justice at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, 1946-1948" (UBC, 2012).
Victor J. Rodriguez, "The Practical Man: John Dewey, the Idea of America, and the Making of the Modern Mexican, 1923-1934" (UCLA, 2009).
Megan K. Barnhart, “‘To Secure the Benefits of Science to the General Welfare’: The Scientists’ Movement and the American Public during the Cold War, 1945-1960” (UCLA, 2007).
Peter S. Alagona, “Transforming Conservation: Endangered Species, Biodiversity, and the Political Economy of Science in California” (UCLA, 2006).
Laura J. Gifford, “The Center Cannot Hold: The 1960 Presidential Election and the Rise of Modern Conservatism” (UCLA, 2006).
Amanda K. McVety, “Truman’s Point Four Program and the Creation of America’s Modern Diplomatic Vision” (UCLA, 2006).
Jessica B. Elkind, “The First Casualties: American Nation Building Programs in South Vietnam, 1955-1965” (UCLA, 2005).
Philip Dunlop, "Sideshow Revisited: Cambodia and the Failure of American Diplomacy, 1973" (UBC, 2010).
Photo credit: Catherine Caddigan