Kathryn Olesko

Kathryn Olesko
Associate Professor
 
514 ICC
 

Associate Professor 


Kathryn Olesko studied physics and mathematics as an undergraduate and then turned to the history of science (especially modern physics), modern European intellectual history, and modern German history for her doctorate. At Georgetown for most of her career, she also has taught at Clarkson University, Cornell University, and Princeton University. She was the Dibner Distinguished Fellow at the Huntington Library and Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for History of Science in Berlin. She teaches courses in the history of science (including the Atomic Age, Comparative Nuclear Cultures, and Scientific Revolution), modern European intellectual history, and World History (using scientific evidence on the theme of human exploration since the journey out of Africa).

She has held several administrative positions at Georgetown including Director of the Program in Science, Technology, and International Affairs, and founding Co-Director of the Center for the Environment. She is Past Editor of Osiris and Past Associate Editor of Isis, the two major American journals for the history of science. Her awards include fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and other foundations. Her main research interest is the history of science and technology since the seventeenth century, with a special interest in measuring practices, science pedagogy, science and engineering in Prussia, and comparative nuclear cultures. In 1998 she was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science “for contributions to scholarship and teaching in the history of science and for leadership in AAAS and the History of Science Society.”


Areas of Expertise: History of science and technology, history of Germany and Prussia, European intellectual history, science and technology studies

  • PhD (1980) Cornell University, History
  • MA (1977) Cornell University, History
  • AB (1973) Cornell University, Physics & Mathematics

Publications

Books

Kathryn M. Olesko. Physics as a Calling: Discipline and Practice in the Koenigsberg Seminar for Physics. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991.

Articles in Journals

Robert E. Kohler and Kathryn M. Olesko. “Clio Meets Science.” Osiris 27 (2012): 1-16.

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Geopolitics and Prussian Technical Education in the Late-Eighteenth Century.” Actes d’ Història de la Ciència i de la Tèchnica 2.2 (2009): 11-44.

Kathryn M. Olesko. “The World We Have Lost: History as Art.” Isis 98 (2007): 760-768.

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Science Pedagogy as a Category of Historical Analysis: Past, Present, & Future.” Science & Education 15 (2006): 863-880.

Kathryn M. Olesko. “History and History of Science Redux.” Osiris 17 (2002): i-iv.

Kathryn M. Olesko. “The Politics of Fin-de-Siècle Physics Pedagogy in Europe.” History of Physics Newsletter: A Forum of the American Physical Society VII.3 (1998): 9-10.

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Precision, Tolerance and Consensus: Local Cultures in German and British Resistance Standards.” Archimedes 1 (1996): 117-156.

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Der Physiker als Lehrer: Zur hundertsten Wiederkehr des Todestages von Franz Neumann (1798-1895).” Physikalische Blätter 51 (1995): 522-524.

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Tacit Knowledge and School Formation.” Osiris 8 (1993): 16-29.

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Introduction.” Osiris 5 (1989): 6-12.

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Physics Instruction in Secondary Schools before 1859.” Osiris 5 (1989): 92-118.

Kathryn M. Olesko. “The Mental World of Physiklehrer: Subject and Method in History of Mentalities.” Recherches en didactique des mathematiques 6.2/3 (1985): 347-362.

Articles in Books

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Science Education in the Historical Study of the Sciences.” International Handbook of Research in History, Philosophy and Science Teaching. Ed. Michael R. Matthews. Amsterdam: Springer Verlag, 2014.

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Physics and Metrology.” The Oxford Handbook of the History of Physics. Ed. Jed Z. Buchwald and Robert Fox. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013: 698-718

Kathryn M. Olesko and Christoph Strupp. “Education: Universities and Research.” The United States and Germany During the Twentieth Century: Competition and Convergence. Ed. Christof Mauch and Kiran Patel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010: 211-226

Kathryn M. Olesko and Christoph Strupp. “Wissen: Universität und Forschung.” Wettlauf um die Moderne: Die USA und Deutschland, 1890 bis Heute. Ed. Christof Mauch and Kiran Patel. Berlin: Pantheon, 2008: 393-423

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Aesthetic Precision.” Tensions: Technological and Aesthetic (Trans)formations of Society. Ed. Reinhard Heil, Andreas Kaminski, & Marcus Stippak. Bielefeld/Piscataway, NJ: transcript-Verlag/Transaction Publishers, 2006: 37-46

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Die Farbe des Lichts, Kunst als mathematische Wissenschaft, Die Vermessung des Menschen, Andreas Vesalius-Begruender modernen Anatomie, Die Revoluion der Himmelssphaeren.” Göttinger Kostbarkeiten: Handschriften, Drucke und Einbände zus zehn Jahrhunderten. Ed. S. Glitsch, et al.. Göttinger Bibliotheksschriften 35. Göttingen: Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, 2006: 24-25, 32-33, 82-83, 94-95, 170-171

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Error and the Personal Equation.” Oxford Guide to the History of Physics and Astronomy. Ed. J. L. Heilbron. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005: 107-108

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Alexander von Humboldt.” Oxford Guide to the History of Physics and Astronomy. Ed. J. L. Heilbron. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005: 157-159

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Humboldtian Science.” Oxford Guide to the History of Physics and Astronomy. Ed. J. L. Heilbron. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005: 159-162

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel.” The Oxford Guide to the History of Physics and Astronomy. Ed. J. L. Heilbron. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005: 28-29

Kathryn M. Olesko. “The Century of Science.” A Companion to Nineteenth-Century Europe. Ed. Stefan Berger. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2005: 333-344

Kathryn M. Olesko. “The Foundation of a Canon: Kohlrausch’s Practical Physics.” Pedagogy and the Practice of Science: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives. Ed. David Kaiser. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005: 323-356

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Der praktische Gauss–Praezisionsmessung fuer den Alltag.” „Wie die Blitz anschlägt, hat sich die Räthsel gelöst“: Carl Friedrich Gauss in Göttingen. Ed. E. Mittler. Göttingen: Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, 2005, 2005: 236-253

Kathryn M. Olesko. “L’ innovazione istituzionale, 1870-1920.” Storia della scienza. Ed. Sandro Petruccioli. v. 8º: Fisica, ed. J. L. Heilbron et al. Roma: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 2004: 334-343

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Cameralism.” Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Ed. J. L. Heilbron et al.. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003: 120-121

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Disciplines.” Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Ed. J. L. Heilbron et al.. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003: 213-214

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Error & the Personal Equation.” Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Ed. J. L. Heilbron et al.. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003: 271-273

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Historiography of Science.” Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Ed. J. L. Heilbron et al.. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003: 366-370

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Institute.” Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Ed. J. L. Heilbron et al.. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003: 402-404

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Kaiser Wilhelm/Max Planck Gesellschaft.” Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Ed. J. L. Heilbron et al.. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003: 433-434

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Marxism.” Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Ed. J. L. Heilbron et al.. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003: 488-489

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Modernity & Postmodernity.” Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Ed. J. L. Heilbron et al.. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003: 540-541

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Nazi Science.” Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Ed. J. L. Heilbron et al.. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003: 568-570

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Precision & Accuracy.” Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Ed. J. L. Heilbron et al.. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003: 672-673

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Probability & Chance.” Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Ed. J. L. Heilbron et al.. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003: 677-678

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Schools.” Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Ed. J. L. Heilbron. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003: 731-733

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Science & Daily Life.” Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Ed. J. L. Heilbron et al.. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003: 199-200

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Seminar.” Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Ed. J. L. Heilbron et al.. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003: 749

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Textbook.” Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Ed. J. L. Heilbron et al.. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003: 796-797

Kathryn M. Olesko. “University.” Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Ed. J. L. Heilbron et al.. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003: 812-815

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Le origini del seminario di ricerca e la fisica teorica .” Storia della scienza. Ed. Sandro Petruccioli. v. 7º: La scienza dell’Ottocento, ed. Jed Buchwald et al. Roma: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 2003: 315-326

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Art & Science.” Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Ed. John L. Helibron. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003: 45-49

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Alexander von Humboldt.” The Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Ed. J. L. Heilbron. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003: 383-84

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Humboldtian Science.” The Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Ed. J. L. Heilbron. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003: 384-387

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Quan els instruments es perden de vista.” Obrient les caixes negres. Collecció d’instruments cientificos de la Universitat de València. Ed. José Ramón Bertomeu Sánchez and Antonio García Belmar. València: Universitat de València, 2002: 21-33

Kathryn M. Olesko. “When instruments disappear from view.” Abriendo las Cajas Negras. Colección de instrumentos cientificos de la Universitat de València. Ed. José Ramón Bertomeu Sánchez and Antonio García Belmar . València: Universitat de València, 2002: 409-414

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Franz Ernst Neumann (1798-1895).” Die Großen Physiker, 2 Bände, Band I: Von Aristotle bis Kelvin. Ed. K. v. Meyenn. Munich: C. S. Beck, 1997: 384-395

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Technology, Efficiency, and Gender in Evangelium Vitae.” Choosing Life: A Dialogue on Evangelium Vitae. Ed. Kevin William Wildes, S.J.. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1997: 105-120

Kathryn M. Olesko. “German Models, American Ways: The ‘New Movement’ Among American Physics Teachers, 1905-1909.” German Influences on Education in the United States to 1917. Ed. H. Geitz, J. Heideking, and J. Herbst. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995: 129-153

Kathryn M. Olesko and Frederic L. Holmes. “The Images of Precision: Helmholtz and the Graphical Analysis of Data.” The Values of Precision. Ed. M. N. Wise. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995: 198-221

Kathryn M. Olesko. “The Meaning of Precision: The Exact Sensibility in Early-Nineteeth-Century Germany.” The Values of Precision. Ed. M. N. Wise. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995: 103-134

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Franz Neumann.” Die Albertus-Universität zu Königsberg und ihre Professoren: Aus Anlass der Gründung der Albertus-Universität vor 450 Jahren . Ed. D. Rauschning and D. v. Nerée . Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1995: 489-497

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Civic Culture and Calling in the Koenigsberg Period.” Universalgenie Helmholtz: Rueckblick nach 100 Jahren. Ed. L. Krueger. Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1994: 22-42

Kathryn M. Olesko and Frederic L. Holmes. “Experiment, Quantification, and Discovery: Helmholtz’s Early Physiological Experiments.” Hermann von Helmholtz and the Foundations of Nineteenth-Century Science. Ed. D. Cahan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993: 50-108

Kathryn M. Olesko. “The Humboldtian Reforms, Economic Factors, and Discipline Shaping: The Case of the Koenigsberg Seminar.” “Einsamkeit und Freiheit” Neu Besichtigt: Universitätsreformen und Disziplinenbildung in Preußen als Modell für Wissenschaftspolitik im Europa des 19. Jahrhunderts. Ed. Gert Schubring. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1991: 92-109

Kathryn M. Olesko. “On Institutes, Investigations, and Scientific Training.” The Investigative Enterprise: Experimental Physiology in Nineteenth-Century Medicine. Ed. W. Coleman and F. L. Holmes. Berkeley: Univeristy of California Press, 1988: 295-332

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Michelson and the Reform of Physics Instruction at the Naval Academy in the 1870s.” The Michelson Era in American Science, 1870-1930. Ed. S. Goldberg and R. Stuewer. New York: American Institute of Physics, 1988: 111-132

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Jesuit Contributions to Physics.” Encyclopedia of Jesuit History. Ed. Francisco de Borja Medina, S.J. and Charles E. O’Neill, S.J… Rome: Institutum Historicum Societatis Jesu, 1983.

Articles in Conference Proceedings

Kathryn M. Olesko. “The Pedagogical Imperative.” British Society for the History of Science and the History of Science Society: Papers and Abstracts for the Joint Conference. . Ed. Ronald Numbers & J. V. Pickstone. Madison, WI: Omnipress, 1988.

Op-Eds

Kathryn M. Olesko. “DNA Discoveries, Now and Then.” The Washington Post 22 Dec. 2007: .

Edited Books

Robert E. Kohler and Kathryn M. Olesko, Guest Eds., ed. Clio Meets Science: The Challenges of History. Edited by Kathryn M. Olesko. Vol. 27, Osiris, 2nd ser., Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.

James Rodger Fleming and Vladimir Jankovic, Guest Ed., ed. Klima. Edited by Kathryn M. Olesko. Vol. 26, Osiris, 2nd ser. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.

Eric Ash, Guest Ed. , ed. Expertise: Practical Knowledge in the Early Modern State. Edited by Kathryn M. Olesko. Vol. 25, Osiris, 2nd ser. Chicago:: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

Carol Harrison and Ann Johnson, Guest Eds., ed. National Identity: The Role of Science and Technology. Edited by Kathryn M. Olesko. Vol. 23, Osiris, 2nd ser. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

Michael D. Gordin, Karl Hall, and Alexei Kojevnikov, Guest Eds., ed. Intelligentsia Science: The Russian Century, 1860-1960. Edited by Kathryn M. Olesko. Vol. 23, Osiris, 2nd ser. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Gregg Eghihan, Andreas Killen, and Christine Leuenberger, Guest Eds., ed. The Self as Project: Politics and the Human Sciences. Edited by Kathryn M. Olesko. Vol. 22, Osiris, 2nd ser. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

John Krige and Kai-Henrik Barth, Guest Eds., ed. Global Power Knowledge: Science and Technology in International Affairs. Edited by Kathryn M. Olesko. Vol. 21, Osiris, 2nd ser. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.

Carola Sachse and Mark Walker, Guest Eds., ed. Politics and Science in Wartime: Comparative Perspectives on the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. Edited by Kathryn M. Olesko. Vol. 20, Osiris, 2nd ser. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.

Gregg Mitman, Michelle Murphy, and Christopher Sellers, Guest Eds., ed. Landscapes of Exposure: Knowledge and Illness in Modern Environments. Edited by Kathryn M. Olesko. Vol. 19, Osiris, 2nd ser. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.

Sven Dierig, Jens Lachmund, and J. Andrew Mendelsohn, Guest Eds., ed. Science and the City. Edited by Kathryn M. Olesko. Vol. 18, Osiris, 2nd ser. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Thomas Broman and Lynn K. Nyhart, Guest Eds., ed. Science and Civil Society. Edited by Kathryn M. Olesko. Vol. 17, Osiris, 2nd ser. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.

Kathryn M. Olesko, Guest Ed., ed. Science in Germany: The Intersection of Institutional and Intellectual Issues. Edited by Arnold Thackray, Vol. 5, Osiris, 2nd ser. Philadelphia, PA: History of Science Society, 1989.

Book Reviews

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Training for the Tripos.” American Scientist 92 (2004): 276-279.

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Nobelists and Company.” Science 256 (1992): 1040-1041.

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Republics of Science.” Science 252 (1991): 976-978.

Kathryn M. Olesko. “The Civics of Science.” Science 248 (1990): 1242-43.

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Planck’s Demon Caught between Good Science and Bad Politics.” Physics Today (1988): 89-90.

Other

Carrie Madren, “Kathryn Olesko Retraces History with a Modern Lens,” American Association for the Advancement of Science Member Spotlight.

Kathryn M. Olesko, “Jesuit Foot Soldiers of Science,” Lecture delivered at Georgetown University, 2 February 2012..

Olesko, Kathryn M. “Water in the Prussian Frontier.” Distinguished Lecture, The Huntington, San Marino, CA, February 17, 2010.

“Decoding Nostradamus”.

Under Contracts for Publication

Kathryn M. Olesko. “Science in Germanic Europe.” Cambridge History of Science, vol. 8, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, to appear in 2016.