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Department of Science and Technology Studies

Cornell University Cornell University Cornell University Science and Technology Studies

Seth Suman




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Suman Seth

Associate Professor
Department of Science & Technology Studies

phone: 607-255-3810
room: 321 Morrill Hall

Office Hours, Fall 2016:
M 1:45 - 2:45, W 2:45 - 3:45


  • Ph.D., History/History of Science, Princeton University
  • M.A., General Studies, Princeton University
  • B.Sc., Physics, University of Sydney

Graduate Fields:

  • Science & Technology Studies
  • Department of History
  • Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies


Research Interests

Professor Suman Seth works on the social, cultural, and intellectual history of modern science. Interests include the history of the physical sciences (particularly quantum theory), gender and science, & science, race, and colonialism. He is the author of Crafting the Quantum: Arnold Sommerfeld and the Practice of Theory, 1890-1926 (MIT, 2010) and the guest editor of a special issue of the journal Postcolonial Studies on “Science, Colonialism, Postcolonialism” (December, 2009). His current research is focused on the history of medicine, botany, zoology, anthropology, and colonialism. He is working on a monograph concerned with the theories and practices of human, animal, and plant acclimatization in England, France, and Germany, 1760-1914.

Recent Courses Taught

  • Fall 2015 - (BSOC/STS 2071) Introduction to the History of Medicine
    MW: 11:15-12:05, 4 credits

  • Spring 2015 - (BSOC/STS 2821) Science in Western Civilization: Newton to Darwin, Darwin to Einstein
    TR: 12:20-1:10, 4 Credits

  • Fall 2014 - (BSOC/STS 2071) Introduction to the History of Medicine
    MW: 11:15-12:05, 4 Credits

  • Fall 2014 - (STS 4751) Science, Race, and Colonialism
    T: 2:30-4:25, 4 Credits

  • Spring 2014 - (STS 6751) Historical Issues of Science, Technology, Race, and Colonialism
    T: 10:10-12:05, 4 Credits

  • Fall 2013 - (BSOC/STS 2071) Introduction to the History of Medicine
    MW: 11:15-12:05, 4 Credits

Selected Publications

  • Crafting the Quantum: Arnold Sommerfeld and the Practice of Theory, 1890-1926.  Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010.

  • Science, Colonialism, Postcolonialism(ed), Special Issue of Postcolonial Studies 12(4) (December, 2009).

  • "Forman at Forty: New Perspectives on 'Weimar Culture and Quantum Mechanics.'" Essay Review of Cathryn Carson, Alexei Kojevnikov, and Helmut Trischler (eds): Weimar culture and quantum mechanics: Selected Papers by Paul Forman and Contemporary Perspectives on the Forman Thesis. Metascience 22 (2): 1-8 (2013).

  • "The History of Physics After the Cultural Turn," Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences, (2011) 41(1): 112-122.

  • "Putting Knowledge in its Place: Science, Colonialism, and the Postcolonial," Postcolonial Studies (2009) 12(4): 373-388.

  • "Zweideutigkeit about 'Zweideutigkeit': Sommerfeld, Pauli, and the Methodological Origins of Quantum Mechanics," Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics (2009) 40(3): 303-315.

  • "Crafting the Quantum: Arnold Sommerfeld and the Older Quantum Theory," Studies in History and Philosophy of Science (2008) 39: 335-348.

  • "Mystik and Technik: Arnold Sommerfeld and Early-Weimar Quantum Theory," Berichte zue Wissenschaftsgeschichte (2008) (31): 331-352.

  • "Crisis and the Construction of Modern Theoretical Physics," British Journal for the History of Science.  (2007) 40(1): pp. 25-51.

  • "Allgemeine Physik? Max Planck und die Gemeinschaft der theoretischen Physik," in Michael Hagner and Manfred Laublichler (eds.), Der Hochsitz des Wissens: Das Allgemeine als wissenschaftlicher Wert.  Berlin: Diaphanes Verlag: (2006) 151-184.

  • "Response to Shaul Katzir: On the Electromagnetic World-View," Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences.  (2005) 36(1): 193-196.