Spring 2023 - HIST 111 D100

Histories of Technology (3)

Class Number: 5591

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 4 – Apr 11, 2023: Fri, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.



An introduction to the social contexts and historical effects of major developments in technology such as industrialization and steam power; the construction of large techno-social systems like gas lighting and electrical grids; networks of scientific and enviro-technical experts; war industries; and cultures of "the bomb" during the nuclear age. Students with credit for HIST 363 cannot take HIST 111 for further credit. Breadth-Hum/Social Sci/Science.


This course examines the history of technology from the industrial age [starting around the beginning of the 19th century] forward to today. While the course highlights new technologies each week and explores how they worked and their stories of invention, our main concern is to connect various arenas of technological change to broader historical contexts, causes, and effects. Think of the course as a humanities/social-science view of technology: we’ll be looking each week at technologies for their social, political, and cultural effects and meaning. Lectures and readings emphasize stories of experiences with new technologies, and we’ll draw widely from around the world for our sources.


  • “How technology worked” paper and tutorial presentation* 20%
  • Midterm exam [short answer and essay] 30%
  • Final exam [short answer and essay] 30%
  • Tutorial attendance and participation [10% attendance, 10% in-tutorial discussion] 20%


Grading note: 

*This is a short paper (4-5 pages, double-spaced) in which students discuss how a 19th-21st century technology worked and offer insightful commentary on the technology's historical contexts, causes, and effects.  The grade for this assignment is based on the paper, though a short (approx. 7-10 minute) presentation in tutorial is required for the assignment to be complete.



All required texts and other study materials will be available on the Canvas course page.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html