Past Event

Jennifer Alexander – Technology, the Supernatural, and Social Gospel

February 15, 2018
12:15 PM - 1:15 PM
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The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, 74 Morningside Drive, New York

Speaker: Jennifer Alexander, University of Minnesota

How and why does the supernatural become productive, political, visible, and sensible – and how does it disappear? The organizers of the Lecture Series posed this question, and this talk addresses it in concrete, material terms, asking how debates about the supernatural origins of the universe appeared in post-war European debates about industry, industrial society, and human social needs. The talk contrasts different responses offered by liberal and evangelical Christian groups to the social dislocations of post-war industrial society. Both liberal and evangelical groups developed arguments about industry as part the supernatural order of creation, but the two groups different greatly in the responses they offered. One group used the supernatural or divine sanction of industry as a call to reform it; the other as a justification for industrial and social laissez faire.

Jennifer Alexander is an Associate Professor of Engineering at the University of Minnesota. They are a historian of modern technology, with specialization in technology and religion; industrial culture; and engineering, ethics, and society. They hold an M.A. in modern German history, and a PhD in history of technology, emphasizing modern Europe, from the University of Washington (Seattle). They are currently working on a book manuscript analyzing the international religious critique of technology that developed following WWII. In particular, their research seeks to understand the widespread mobilizing of religious critique of technology in the post-war world. Alexander teaches courses in history of technology, engineering ethics, theories of technological change, and religion and technology.

This event is open exclusively to Columbia faculty, students, and invited guests. All others wishing to attend, please email [email protected] describing your interest and requesting registration.

For more information, please visit the Society of Fellows website.

This event is part of the Thursday Lecture Series: Supernatural and is sponsored by The Society of Fellows.