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Raymond F. West Memorial Lecture: Lorraine Daston, "Big Science, Big Humanities, and the Archives of the Year 3000"

Before there were Two Cultures, there was Big Science—and before that, Big Humanities. In the mid-nineteenth century ambitious, expensive, and labor-intensive projects to create the archives of the future in classical philology and astronomy called both into existence. In the age of Big Data, we are once again in the midst of an archival moment, and there are lessons to be learned from the first wave of project research for how the present envisions the need of future scholars and scientists.

About the Speaker

Lorraine Daston has published on a wide range of topics in the history of science, including the history of probability and statistics, wonders in early modern science, the emergence of the scientific fact, scientific models, objects of scientific inquiry, the moral authority of nature, and the history of scientific objectivity. Recent books include (co-edited with Elizabeth Lunbeck), Histories of Scientific Observation (2011), and (with Paul Erikson et al.) How Reason Almost Lost Its Mind: The Strange Career of Cold War Rationality (2014), both products of MPIWG Working Groups.

Her current projects include a history of rules, based on her 2014 Lawrence Stone Lectures at Princeton University, the emergence of Big Science and Big Humanities in the context of nineteenth-century archives, and the relationship between moral and natural orders.

She is the recipient of the Pfizer Prize and Sarton Medal of the History of Science Society, the Schelling Prize of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, the Lichtenberg Medal of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences, the Luhmann Prize of the University of Bielefeld, and an honorary dotorate of humane letters from Princeton University. In addition to directing Department II of the Max-Planck-Institute Für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, she is a regular Visiting Professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago and Permanent Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin

About the Lecture Series

The Raymond F. West Memorial Lecture Series was established in 1910 by Mr. and Mrs. Frederic West of Seattle in memory of their son, a student at Stanford University. The lectures are to promote the subject of "immortality, human conduct, and human destiny." West Lectures are presented every other year.



Tuesday, October 30, 2018. 06:00 PM


Stanford Humanities Center, Levinthal Hall


Devin Devine, Event Coordinator, 650.725.1219,


Free and open to the public. After 4 PM, free parking is available in the lot next to the Humanities Center and in Roble Garage, a short walk down Santa Teresa Street.