Jason M. Kelly

new Course

machines and the Age of Invention

Spring 2018 | T 3-5:45 | HIST H375 | 31774

2018 is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, arguably the first modern science fiction novel. Using Frankenstein as its key text, this course explores the history of science and medical ethics during the 18th and 19th centuries. Topics that we will discuss include grave robbing, dissection, gender, and human consciousness. We will place historical documents in conversation with contemporary debates through examining Frankenstein‘s influence on popular culture including films such as Blade Runner and Ex Machina.



I teach a range of courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. Much of my teaching over the past few years has focused on the History of Science, Technology, and the Environment and has included courses such as the History of the Anthropocene, the History of Evolution and Human Consciousness, and the History of Science and Technology since 1750. I also teach the graduate seminar in Digital Public History and the History of Social and Cultural Theory seminar for the American Studies PHD Program. 

In the classroom, I emphasize the importance of dialogue and interdisciplinarity. Students can expect broad ranging conversations that emerge from their weekly primary and secondary readings. Assignments focus on developing disciplinary-specific and interdisciplinary knowledge, skills, and competencies. These assignments tend to be cumulative, often resulting in collaborative digital humanities (e.g. historical GIS) or community based (e.g. oral histories) projects.  

In addition to formal university classes, I also co-teach a number of non-credit, community-based seminars and workshops. These include The Ethics, Values, and Practices of Public Art in Urban Contexts Seminar Series, which began in 2017, and The Anthropocene and the City Seminar, which begins in 2018.  


Recent courses

Michel Foucault

Social & Cultural Theory since 1900

This course is a graduate level survey of social and cultural theory. The purpose of the course is to introduce students to the key theoretical debates that have dominated social science and humanities scholarship over the past 150 years. We will read authors such as Karl Marx, Max Weber, Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Antonio Gramsci, Frantz Fanon,Michel Foucault, bell hooks, Donna Harraway, Judith Butler, Chela Sandoval, Henri Lefebvre, and many more. 

Longsheng Rice Terrace

HistoRy & the Global Anthropocene

Humanity is facing a global environmental crisis, but this crisis didn’t begin recently. It is the consequence of a historical process that has been unfolding over hundreds of years. This course examines the socio-cultural conditions that has made the Anthropocene possible — imperialism, industrialization, capitalism, urbanization, and more.

Neanderthal Skull

History of Evolution & Human Consciousness

This course examines the deep history of humanity by asking the question, "what makes us human?" The answer requires that we explore the histories of religion, philosophy and science. It necessitates that we study the evolution of humans—and most importantly the evolution of brains, consciousness, and culture. We will draw on research from biology, anthropology, and history to explore our pasts, presents, and futures.

Nam June Paik. Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii 1995-96. Smithsonian.

Digital Public History

Digital History is a branch of the Digital Humanities concerned with the the creation and critical application of digital technologies to further historical scholarship, develop scholarly communities, and present academic research to non-academic groups. This course introduce students to the basic theory and practice of Digital History, especially as it relates to Public History. At the end of this course students will have a clear understanding of the potentials and pitfalls of Digital History, both in practice and theory.