Crystal Lee (she/她)

HASTS Common List: readings in science and technology studies

In the MIT HASTS program, we have qualifying exams in the third year (or thereabouts) and we each get to choose three fields. One is compulsory, which is the HASTS Common List. This is a fun exercise of tracing different genealogies of the field -- this is far from a comprehensive sweep but might be a good starting point for anyone interested in STS as a field. Huge thanks to Will Deringer and Jamie Wong for reading this list of fantastic books with me.

Unit 1: Philosophies of Science

Monographs 1. Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. University of Chicago Press, 1962.

  1. Paul Feyerabend, Against Method, 4th ed. (Verso, 2010 [1975]).

  2. Nancy Cartwright, How the Laws of Physics Lie (Oxford, 1983). [skip chapter 9]

  3. Ian Hacking, Representing and Intervening: Introductory Topics in the Philosophy of Natural Science (Cambridge University Press, 1983). [use part 1 as an outline for this unit]

  4. Helen Longino, Science as Social Knowledge: Values and Objectivity in Scientific Inquiry (Princeton, 1990).

Articles/Book Chapters

  1. Karl Popper, “Science: Conjectures and refutations,” in Popper, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (Routledge, 2002 [1963]), 43-86.

  2. Peter Galison, “Aufbau/Bauhaus: Logical positivism and architectural modernism,” _Critical Inquiry _16, no. 4 (1990): 709-752.

  3. Peter Galison, “Trading Zone: Coordinating Action and Belief.” In The Science Studies Reader, edited by Mario Biagioli, 137-160. Routledge, 1999.

  4. David Kaiser, “Thomas Kuhn and the Psychology of Scientific Revolutions,” Robert J. Richards and Lorraine Daston (eds), (Chicago, 2016).

Unit 2: Sociology of Scientific Knowledge and Institutions


  1. Harry Collins, Changing Order: Replication and Induction in Scientific Practice, 2nd ed. (1985).

  2. David Bloor, Knowledge and Social Imagery (Chicago 1991). [especially pp. 3-83]

  3. Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life (Princeton 2011 [1985]).

  4. Karin Knorr-Cetina, Epistemic Cultures: How the Sciences Make Knowledge (Harvard 2003).

  5. Sheila Jasanoff, Designs on Nature: Science and Democracy in Europe and the United States (Princeton 2007).

  6. Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (Bloomsbury 2011).

Articles/Book Chapters

  1. Robert K. Merton, “Science and the Social Order” and “The Normative Structure of Science in The Sociology of Science.” In The Sociology of Science: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations, 254–66, 267-278. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974.

  2. Karl Mannheim, “The sociology of knowledge,” in Ideology and Utopia: An Introduction to the Sociology of Knowledge, trans. Louis Wirth and Edward Shils (Harcourt Brace, 1985 [1936]), 264-311.

  3. David Kaiser, “A Mannheim for all seasons: Bloor, Merton, and the roots of the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge,” _Science in Context _11, no. 1 (1998): 51-87.

Unit 3: Actor-Network Theory, Cyborgs, and Nonhuman Agency


  1. ANT: Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern, trans. Catherine Porter (Harvard, 1993).

  2. Bruno Latour, Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers through Society (Harvard, 1987).

  3. Timothy Mitchell, Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity (California, 2002).

  4. Cyborgs and machines: Donna Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (Routledge, 1991). [especially “Cyborg Manifesto,” 149-181 and Modest_Witness.]

  5. Andrew Pickering, The Cybernetic Brain: Sketches of Another Future (Chicago, 2010).

  6. Jessica Riskin, The Restless Clock: A History of the Centuries-Long Argument over What Makes Living Things Tick (Chicago, 2016).

  7. Nonhuman agency: Donna Haraway, The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness (Chicago, 2003).

  8. Reviel Netz, Barbed Wire: An Ecology of Modernity (Wesleyan, 2004).

  9. Peter Godfrey-Smith, Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2017).

  10. Tania Munz, The Dancing Bees: Karl von Frisch and the Discovery of the Honeybee Language (Chicago, 2017).

Articles/Book Chapters

  1. Michel Callon, “Some elements of a sociology of translation: Domestication of the scallops and the fishermen of St. Brieuc Bay,” in P_ower, Action and Belief: A New Sociology of Knowledge_, ed. John Law (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986), pp. 196–233.

  2. H.M. Collins and Steven Yearley, “Epistemological Chicken;” Michel Callon and Bruno Latour, “Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bath School!” in Andrew Pickering, ed., Science as Practice and Culture (1992).

  3. Karen Barad, “Agential realism: Feminist interventions in understanding scientific practices,” in The Science Studies Reader, ed. Mario Biagioli (Routledge, 1999), pp. 1–11.

Unit 4: Science as Practice, Craft, and Material Culture


  1. Bruno Latour and Steve Woolgar, Laboratory Life: The Construction of Scientific Facts (Princeton 1986 [1979]).

  2. Sharon Traweek, Beamtimes and Lifetimes: The World of High Energy Physicists (Harvard, 1988).

  3. Robert Kohler, Lords of the Fly: Drosophila Genetics and the Experimental Life (Chicago, 1994).

  4. Andrew Pickering, The Mangle of Practice: Time, Agency, and Science (Chicago, 1995).

  5. Andrew Warwick, Masters of Theory: Cambridge and the Rise of Mathematical Physics (Chicago 2003).

  6. Michelle Murphy, Sick Building Syndrome and the Problem of Uncertainty: Environmental Politics, Technoscience, and Women Workers (Duke, 2006).

  7. Mario Biagioli. Galileo, Courtier: Practice of Science in the Culture of Absolutism. (Chicago, 2006).

  8. Heather Paxson, The Life of Cheese: Crafting Food and Value in America (California, 2012).

Articles/Book Chapters

  1. Pierre Bourdieu, “Structures and the habitus,” in Outline of a Theory of Practice (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977), 72-95.

  2. Susan Leigh Star and James Griesemer, “Institutional ecology, ‘translations,’ and boundary objects: Amateurs and professionals in Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, 1907-1939,” Social Studies of Science 19, no. 3 (1989): 387-420.

Unit 5: Technological Determinism vs. Social Constructions of Technology


  1. (skim) Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization (University of Chicago Press, 2010 [1934]).

    • Rosalind Williams, “Classics Revisited: Lewis Mumford’s Technics and Civilization,” _Technology and Culture _43.1 (January 2002), pp. 139-149.
  2. Donald A. MacKenzie, Inventing Accuracy: A Historical Sociology of Nuclear Missile Guidance (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990).

  3. (skim, but pay attention to chapter on stirrups) Lynn White, Medieval Technology and Social Change (Oxford, 1966).

  4. Ruth Schwartz Cowan, More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave (Basic, 1983).

  5. (skim, replace with something newer) Nelly Oudshoorn and Trevor Pinch, eds., How Users Matter: The Co- Construction of Users and Technologies (MIT, 2003).

    • Elizabeth Petrick, Making Computers Accessible: Disability Rights and Digital Technology (Johns Hopkins 2015).
    • Joy Rankin, A People’s History of Computing (Harvard 2018).
  6. David Edgerton, The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History Since 1900 (Oxford, 2007).

  7. Natasha Schüll, Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas (Princeton, 2012).

Articles/Book Chapters

  1. Wiebe Bijker, Thomas P. Hughes, and Trevor Pinch, eds., The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology (MIT, 1987). [introductory essay only]

  2. Langdon Winner, “Upon opening the black box and finding it empty: Social constructivism and the philosophy of technology,” Science, Technology & Human Values 18, no. 3 (1993): 362-378.

  3. Rayvon Fouché, “Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud: African Americans, American artifactual culture, and black vernacular technological creativity,” _American Quarterly _58, no. 3 (2006): 639-661.

Unit 6: Sensing Science

Monographs and articles

  1. Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility [First Version],” trans. Michael W. Jennings, Grey Room, no. 39 (0, 2010): 11–38.

  2. Bruno Latour, “Drawing Things Together,” in Representation in Scientific Practice, ed. Michael Lynch and Steve Woolgar (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1990), 19-68.

  3. Joseph Dumit, Picturing Personhood: Brain Scans and Biomedical Identity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004).

  4. David Kaiser, Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).

  5. Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, Objectivity (New York: Zone, 2007).

  6. Sherry Turkle, ed., Simulation and Its Discontents (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2009). [the “Simulation and its Discontents” section by Turkle]

  7. Regula Valérie Burri and Joseph Dumit, “Social studies of scientific imaging and visualization,” in The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, 3rd edition, ed. Edward J. Hackett, Olga Amsterdamska, Michael Lynch, and Judy Wajcman (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008), 297-317.

Unit 7: Medicine, Nature, and the Body


  1. Londa Schiebinger, Nature’s Body: Gender in the Making of Modern Science (Boston: Beacon Press, 1993).

  2. Tanya Luhrmann, Of Two Minds: An Anthropologist Looks at American Psychiatry (Vintage, 2001).

  3. Annemarie Mol, The Body Multiple: Ontology in Medical Practice (Duke, 2002).

  4. Julie Livingston, Improvising Medicine: An African Oncology Ward in an Emerging Cancer Epidemic (Duke 2012).

  5. S. Lochlann Jain, Malignant: How Cancer Becomes Us (University of California, 2013).

  6. Eduardo Kohn, How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human (University of California, 2013).

Articles/Book Chapters

  1. Emily Martin, “The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles,” Signs 16 (1991), 485-501.

  2. David S. Jones, “Virgin Soils Revisited,” William and Mary Quarterly 60, no. 4 (2003): 703-742.

  3. Michael M. J. Fischer, “Emergent forms of life: Anthropologies of late or post modernities,” in Emergent Forms of Life and the Anthropological Voice (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003), 37-58.

Unit 8: Classification and Standardization


  1. Harriet Ritvo, The Platypus and the Mermaid, and Other Figments of the Classifying Imagination (Harvard, 1998).

  2. Geoffrey C. Bowker and Susan Leigh Star. Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences (MIT, 1999).

  3. Deborah Fitzgerald, Every Farm a Factory: The Industrial Ideal in American Agriculture (Yale, 2003).

  4. Paul Erickson et al., How Reason Almost Lost its Mind: The Strange Career of Cold War Rationality (Chicago, 2013).

  5. Rebecca Lemov, Database of Dreams: The Lost Quest to Catalog Humanity (Yale, 2015).

Articles/Book Chapters

  1. Matthew L. Jones, “How We Became Instrumentalists (Again): Data Positivism since World War II,” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 48, no. 5 (November 0, 2018): 673–84.

  2. Lisa Gitelman, “Raw Data” Is an Oxymoron, Infrastructure (Cambridge, MA, 2013), selections.

  3. Jacob, Elin K. “Classification and Categorization: A Difference That Makes a Difference.” Library Trends 52, no. 3 (Winter 2004): 515–40.

Unit 9: Numbers and Measurement


  1. Ian Hacking, The Taming of Chance (Cambridge, 1990).

  2. Ted Porter, Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life (Princeton, 1995).

  3. Donna Drucker, The Classification of Sex: Alfred Kinsey and the Organization of Knowledge (Pittsburgh, 2014).

  4. Dan Bouk, How Our Days Became Numbered: Risk and the Rise of the Statistical Individual (Chicago, 2015).

  5. Jamie L. Pietruska, Looking Forward: Prediction and Uncertainty (Chicago, 2017).

  6. Sarah Elizabeth Igo, The Averaged American: Surveys, Citizens, and the Making of a Mass Public (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007).

  7. Will Deringer, Calculated Values: Finance, Politics, and the Quantitative Age (Harvard University Press, 2018).


  1. Wendy Nelson Espeland and Mitchell L. Stevens, “A Sociology of Quantification,” European Journal of Sociology 49, no. 3 (Dec., 2008): 401-36.

  2. Marion Fourcade, “Cents and Sensibility: Economic Valuation and the Nature of ‘Nature,’” _American Journal of Sociology _116, no. 6 (May 2011): 1721-77.

  3. Canay Özden-Schilling, “The Infrastructure of Markets: From Electric Power to Electronic Data,” Economic Anthropology 3, no. 1 (2016): 68-80.

Unit 10: Machines and Computing


  1. Stewart Brand, The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT (New York: Penguin Books, 1988).

  2. Paul N. Edwards, The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America, Reprint edition (Cambridge, Mass. London: The MIT Press, 1997).

  3. Fred Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism, (Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 2008).

  4. Nathan L Ensmenger, The Computer Boys Take Over: Computers, Programmers, and the Politics of Technical Expertise, Computers, Programmers, and the Politics of Technical Expertise (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012).

  5. Janet Abbate, Inventing the Internet (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000).

  6. Eden Medina, Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende’s Chile, Reprint edition (MIT Press, 2014).

  7. Thomas S. Mullaney, The Chinese Typewriter: A History (MIT, 2017).

  8. Marie Hicks, Programmed Inequality: How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge in Computing (MIT Press, 2017).

  9. Safiya Noble, Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (NYU, 2018).

  10. Ruha Benjamin, Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code (Polity, 2019).

Articles/Book Chapters

  1. Darnton, Robert. “An Early Information Society: News and the Media in Eighteenth-Century Paris.” _The American Historical Review _105, no. 1 (February 1, 2000): 1–35.

  2. Elena Aronova, ed., “Data Histories.” Osiris Volume 32, 2017.