Computers, Apollo, and Mad Men

I’ve been found out: I love Mad Men. I also love radio. Earlier this week Ellen Horne, a radio producer at WYNC, gave me a chance to combine these two passions when she invited me to talk about the role of science and technology in Mad Men for a new podcast, The Mad Men Pre-Game Show. We had a blast talking about computers, the Apollo mission, dual-use technologies, feminism, and a bunch of other stuff. Most of it even made it past editing. 🙂

Here’s Episode 1, “Welcome Back to the 60s,” for fellow Mad Men fans. I come in around 8:00.

Storifying AHA

Maybe because it was in New York, or maybe because it’s what historians wanted, but this year’s American Historical Association meeting featured a steady stream of panels on trade and scholarly publishing, publicity, and public intellectualism. I couldn’t attend all of them, but learned a lot from those that I did. Rather than writing up my thoughts in blog form, I used Storify to organize session tweets into something resembling a narrative. Each contains a bit of ancillary commentary and/or context to help those who weren’t present make sense of what happened.

The potential for error in Storifying a live-tweeted session is high, so please don’t hesitate to contact me at audrajwolfe at gmail dot com if I have misrepresented your views or if you wish your tweets to be removed.

Session 38: Buying and Selling History: Some Perspectives on the Marketplace

Session 175: The Future of the Book Review

Media Training Workshop for Historians (no session number)

Session 294: Writing for the Public: What Makes a Successful Trade History Book

An Award!

I am absolutely thrilled to announce that Competing with the Soviets: Science, Technology, and the American State has been awarded the Forum for the History of Science in America’s Philip Pauly Book Prize.

It’s always lovely to win an award, but this recognition is particularly meaningful to me because I knew Phil. Phil was a generous, dedicated scholar in the history of biology, and his last book, Science and the Promise of American Life, pushed me to think more carefully about the role of biologists in American society. He and I would occasionally have lunch together when we both worked at Rutgers University and talk history of biology. I miss Phil, and I’m profoundly honored to have been given an award in his name.

I’ve collected reviews of Competing with the Soviets here. You can also read the introduction online.


If you’re in Philadelphia next week, you can catch a preview of my next book project. I’ll be speaking on “Hearts, Minds, and Labs: Science as Cold War Cultural Diplomacy” at Temple University’s Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy on Tuesday, September 30. The event will be held in the Weigley Room of Gladfelter Hall at 3:30 p.m.

My talk is the first CENFAD talk of the season. It’s a great program—for the full list of speakers, click here.

Was Margaret Sanger a Venture Capitalist?


But an interesting new book by Jonathan Eig frames the history of the first commercial birth control pill as a sort of Silicon Valley history of innovation. Although certain aspects of the book gave me pause, on the whole, I enjoyed it. It’s a page-turner, which isn’t something that can be said about most books in the history of medicine.

My review appears in the current issue of C&EN.

Election to Council!

I am pleased—very pleased!—to announce that I’ve just been elected to the History of Science Society’s Council for 2015 to 2017. The Council is the governing board of the History of Science Society, which I consider my “home society.”

I’m expecting lots of smoke-filled rooms and such. What? No? Ok, how about transparency? That’s better, actually. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch should you have any questions about how HSS operates, what Council does, or have an issue you’d like to see discussed.

May Conferences

May, when academic semesters end, is a prime time for scholarly workshops and symposia. This year, I’ll be attending two. Neither has much of a web presence, so I’ll spare you the links, but here are the basics:

On May 1–2, Bowdoin College is hosting a conference on “Social Politics and the Cold War.” I’ll be delivering a paper entitled, “The Freedom to Live a Scientific Life: Anticommunism and the Shaping of American Scientific Identity.”

On May 16–17, the University of Pittsburgh is hosting a symposium on “The Life Sciences after World War II,” with specific attention to internationalization. I’ll be returning to the topic of biology textbooks: “What’s in a Zone? Biological Order versus National Identity in the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study.”

Please email me at audrajwolfe at gmail dot com if you would like a copy of either of these papers.