Science and Technology Studies


STS offers degrees at each university level: undergraduate, masters, and PhD


JBS Haldane Lecture - Prof. John Tresch on Barnum, Bache and Poe.

18 October 2018

The Department of Science and Technology Studies held its second JBS Haldane Lecture of 2018, with Prof. John Tresch giving an entertaining talk on Barnum, Bache and Poe.

Prof. John Tresch, speaking in front of a caricature of JBS Haldane

The JBS Haldane lectures are the Department's flagship events, and are our opportunity to showcase recent research by experts in the field. Following our talk earlier in 2018 from Prof. Trevor Pinch, our October Haldane lecture featured Prof. John Tresch of the Warburg Institute, giving his talk 'Barnum, Bache and Poe: Forging American Science in a Media Revolution'.

Lunar Soc chair Sam Cutler introduces Prof. John Tresch

Following brief welcomes from Head of Department Prof. Joe Cain and Undergraduate tutor Dr Simon Werrett, the task of introducing the speaker was given to undergraduate student, and chair of the Lunar Society, Sam Cutler.

Prof. Tresch then gave a fascinating talk, drawing comparisons between the current US President and famed conman P.T. Barnum - comparisons which the president has himself made. He then discussed developments in the understanding of science in 19th Century America with reference to polymath Alexander Dallas Bache, and the poet and writer Edgar Allen Poe. Touching on points such as the March for Science, the US Coastal Service, the Mechanical Turk, and finishing with a discussion of Poe's work 'A Descent into the Maelstrom', the audience were engrossed from beginning to end.

Prof. John Tresch and the Maelstrom - photo credit: Jack Stilgoe

Recordings of previous JBS Haldane Lectures can be found on our Haldane Lectures page. Our next Haldane lecture with Prof. Massimiano Bucchi will take place in January 2019 - more details will be made available nearer the time.