2017-2018 / HIST0164-1

History of techniques


30h Th

Number of credits

 Master in history of art and archaeology : general (120 ECTS)5 crédits 
 Master in history of art and archaeology : general (60 ECTS)5 crédits 


Philippe Tomsin

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the first semester, review in January

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

Teaching will focus on the general evolution of techniques, from prehistory to the twenty-first century, mainly in the West but also in non-European cultures (Islam, pre-Columbian and the Far East).
This evolution is examined from the point of view of cultural anthropology: technology as part of culture (in the anthropological sense); as an act of creation or transformation of a material object or as an act of adaptation or transformation of the environment.
Following a detailed introduction in which various definitions and thoughts on several concepts (including "technology" in the animal world) will be discussed, the general evolution of technology will be examine in chronological terms. The major steps in this development are prehistory (from the Oldowan to the Neolithic Revolution), protohistory (Chalcolithic and Bronze Age), Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, the High Middle Ages and the "industrial revolution", the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution in the seventeenth century, the Enlightenment and the beginnings of the "first industrial revolution," the nineteenth century (first and second industrial revolution) and the twentieth century (the third industrial revolution). To conclude, a final reflection on the evolution of technology and its future will be examined, and attention will be drawn to its continual impact on the ecosystem.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

This teaching does not consist of an introduction to industrial archaeology or preparation for historical research methods in the history of technology, or the philosophy of technology. Its purpose is to give students a solid general knowledge in the field of history of technology. The fundamental goal is to draw students' attention to the basic problem of the continuous interaction between evolution in technology, human needs and the environment.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

No specific prior knowledge is needed.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

The lectures will be richly illustrated with photos (Power Point) and videos.

Mode of delivery (face-to-face ; distance-learning)

30 hours, second semester (detailed schedule to be arranged)

Recommended or required readings

Recommended basic references:
Gille B. (dir.) (1978), Histoire des techniques. Technique et Civilisations. Technique et Sciences, coll. Encyclopédie de La Pléiade, Paris.
Jacomy Br. (1990), Une histoire des techniques, Paris.
Jacomy Br., Lette M. (2005), Des techniques et des hommes: l'histoire à la lumière du présent, Paris. A bibliography of key references will be provided, alongside the photos and videos shown during the lessons (everything will be provided in digital format).

Assessment methods and criteria

Oral examination (random questions). June session.

Work placement(s)

Organizational remarks