Mitman, Gregg 1960-
Mitman, Gregg 1960-
Born October 9, 1960. Education: Dalhousie University, B.Sc. (with distinction), 1981; University of Wisconsin at Madison, M.A., 1984, Ph.D., 1988.
Home—Madison, WI. Office—University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1415 Medical Sciences Center, 1300 University Ave., Madison, WI 53706-1585. Agent—Garamond Agency, Inc., 12 Horton St., Newburyport, MA 01950. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]
University of Oklahoma, Norman, department of the history of science, assistant professor, 1991-95, associate professor, 1995-99, professor, 1999-2000; University of Wisconsin, Madison, professor of medical history, history of science, and science and technology studies, 2001—, department of history of science, interim chair, 2003-04, William Coleman Professor of History of Science, 2005—, Center for Culture, History, and Environment, director, 2007—.
University of Wisconsin-Madison, department of the history of science, visiting assistant professor, 1989-90, visiting associate professor, 1995-96; University of Minnesota, Program in the History of Science and Technology, visiting assistant professor, 1990-91, visiting professor, 2000-01; Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, visiting scholar, 1999-2000, 2008.
History of Science Society, International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology, American Society for Environmental History, Organization of American Historians, Society for the Social Studies of Science.
Charlotte W. Newcombe Fellow, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, 1986-87; University of Oklahoma, department of the history of science, Rockefeller Fellow in the Humanities, 1988-89; Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies Fellow, Princeton University, 1997-98; Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung-Fellow, 1999-2000; Senior Fellow, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, Germany, 1999-2000; National Library of Medicine Research Fellow, 2003; Glaxo-Smith-Kline Senior Fellow, National Humanities Center, 2004-05; American Council of Learned Societies Fellow, 2004; John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow, 2004; Aldo Leopold-Ralph W. Hidy Award, American Society for Environmental History, 2006; Dean's Professorship, College of Letters and Science, 2005-10; National Science Foundation, IGERT grant, 2006; Vilas Associate Award, University of Wisconsin, 2006-08; Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, Renewed Research Fellowship, 2008; Outstanding Achievement Award, Wisconsin Library Association, 2008.
Reel Nature: America's Romance with Wildlife on Films, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1999.
Contributor of articles and reviews to journals, including Isis, Environmental History, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Osiris, Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Perspectives on Science, Journal of American History, Journal of the History of Biology, Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, and Ecology. Contributor of articles and chapters to books.
Writer, educator, and historian Gregg Mitman was born on October 9, 1960. He attended Dalhousie University, graduating in 1981 with distinction, and then continued his education at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, completing his master's degree in 1984, followed by his doctorate in 1988. Over the course of his career, Mitman has taught at a number of institutions of higher learning, including the University of Oklahoma, where he began as an assistant professor and was promoted first to associate and then to full professor of the history of science, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he serves on the faculty as a professor of medical history, history of science, and science and technology studies. In 2005, he was made the William Coleman Professor of History of Science, and in 2007, he became the director of the Center for Culture, History, and Environment. Beyond his long-term academic appointments, Mitman has also served as a visiting faculty member at several universities, including the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of Minnesota. He has also been a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, Germany. Outside of the classroom, he is a regular contributor of articles and reviews to various journals, including Isis, Environmental History, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Osiris, Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Perspectives on Science, Journal of American History, Journal of the History of Biology, Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, and Ecology. He also frequently contributes chapters or articles to various books. Mitman is the author of a number of books on nature, animal life, and the role of human beings in the world.
In The State of Nature: Ecology, Community, and American Social Thought, 1900-1950, Mitman addresses the careers of several scientists, looking to see how they know they've made the right decision in any given situation and how they glean their scientific information. He examines the planet from the point of view of various ecologists, and the historical impact on the ecosystem. Alice E. Ingerson, writing for the American Scientist, commented that "in the end, Mitman's history is much narrower than his title implies. It connects science to society through the personal lives and achievements of the individual ecologists associated with the departments of zoology, geography and biology at the University of Chicago. The book only occasionally rises above its archival sources to explore broader ideas about nature and community in American social thought."
Reel Nature: America's Romance with Wildlife on Films is an intriguing look at how films have depicted nature through the years, constantly struggling to find a happy and appropriate balance between the needs of the scientific community to have the films portray nature in an accurate and educational way, and the practical interest in capturing the attention of the viewers. The public's interest in nature stories was originally piqued by some of the great writers producing work pertaining to the outdoors, such as Jack London. However, filmmakers soon realized that despite this seeming acceptance of the realism of nature, the public was not interested in seeing stories unfold on screen in their own time. They want to be able to watch nature with a measure of safety but without losing any of the primal, visceral, spur-of-the-moment motivation they witnessed in the wild. Because nature does not perform to a script, it became more and more usual for filmmakers to appeal to the romantic sensibilities of their audiences, as well as their interest in action, altering what should have been true documentaries and adjusting the footage so that it corresponded to their new vision for the future. Thomas Lovejoy, writing for Science, remarked that "at any given moment, there is a wide variation in the extent to which documentary films use artistic or fictional techniques, and there certainly has been even greater variation over the history of wildlife film. The debates about the extent to which art and technology can intrude on reality will be a perpetual adjunct to the medium."
In Breathing Space: How Allergies Shape Our Lives and Landscapes, Mitman offers readers a history of mankind's experiences with allergies and the constant quest to overcome them. The first real instance of allergies came in the form of hay fever toward the end of the nineteenth century, a condition more technically referred to as allergic rhinitis. The more urban conditions and the growth of cities were the source of this relatively new problem. Because people spent a great deal of time in an urban atmosphere, away from nature, they were constantly being bombarded with the enclosed air of their offices, smoke and smog when they were walking down the street, and the frenetic pace that kept them on the move and feeling stressed. This made them more sensitive to the allergens when they were exposed to them. The more affluent members of society were able to spend large portions of their time outside of the cities, in resort areas that sprang up in part to meet this need, but the average person was forced to suffer without such recourse. According to Mitman's research, the term allergy was not even coined until 1906, in reference to the violent reaction the body had, in what scientists suspected to be essentially an overreaction by the body's defense system in an attempt to rid itself of the unwanted and unwelcome allergens. However it was many years before any real breakthroughs were made into treatments for allergies, and many of the early experiments in the name of research toward a cure made allergy sufferers all the more miserable. Ultimately, the focus was placed on medicating the patients, as opposed to determining how to improve the environment in order to combat the allergies. Kevin R. Kosar, reviewing for the Weekly Standard, remarked that "although sometimes enlightening and amusing, Breathing Space is, ultimately, a rather messy book. Mitman is a historian of science; yet throughout the book, science takes a back seat to storytelling and cultural criticism." However Donna Chavez, writing for Booklist, found the book "full of the wisdom of lessons learned as well as of noted authorities," and concluded by calling Mitman's effort "nothing to sneeze at."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, June 1, 1993, Roderick Frazier Nash, review of The State of Nature: Ecology, Community, and American Social Thought, 1900-1950, p. 960; October 1, 2001, James A. Pritchard, review of Reel Nature: America's Romance with Wildlife on Films, p. 1392.
American Scientist, July 1, 1994, Alice E. Ingerson, review of The State of Nature.
American Studies International, April 1, 1994, Bernard Mergen, review of The State of Nature, p. 107.
Animal Behaviour, November 1, 1993, Donald A. Dewsbury, review of The State of Nature, p. 1039.
BJHS: The British Journal for the History of Science, June 1, 1993, Malcolm Nicolson, review of The State of Nature, p. 253; June 1, 2007, Tania Munz, review of Thinking with Animals: New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism, p. 277.
Booklist, December 15, 1999, Donna Seaman, review of Reel Nature, p. 750; May 15, 2007, Donna Chavez, review of Breathing Space: How Allergies Shape Our Lives and Landscapes, p. 11.
Book World, July 8, 2007, Adrian Higgins, review of Breathing Space, p. 11.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, July 1, 2000, K.S. Nolley, review of Reel Nature; June 1, 2003, K.S. Nolley, review of Reel Nature, p. 1675; December 1, 2007, R.G. McGee, review of Breathing Space, p. 662.
Chronicle of Higher Education, January 14, 2000, review of Reel Nature, p. 28; March 4, 2005, Nina C. Ayoub, review of Thinking with Animals.
Ecology, December 1, 1993, Robert P. McIntosh, review of The State of Nature, p. 2475.
Isis, March 1, 1994, Joel B. Hagen, review of The State of Nature, p. 181; June 1, 2001, review of Reel Nature, p. 431.
JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, November 14, 2007, Katherine Gundling, review of Breathing Space, p. 2204.
Journal of American History, March 1, 1994, Elazar Barkan, review of The State of Nature, p. 1501; March 1, 2002, Michael Welsh, review of Reel Nature, p. 1620; March 1, 2008, Susan D. Jones, review of Breathing Space, p. 1306.
Nature, April 21, 2005, "Admitting Sympathy beyond Species," p. 958.
Nature Medicine, November 1, 2007, "The History and Ideology of Allergies," p. 1279.
New England Journal of Medicine, November 29, 2007, Gerald J. Gleich, review of Breathing Space, p. 2312.
Pacific Northwest Quarterly, March 22, 2001, Thomas R. Dunlap, review of Reel Nature, p. 98.
Quarterly Review of Biology, March 1, 1994, Madhav Gadgil, review of The State of Nature, p. 85; September 1, 2001, Gary Kroll, review of Reel Nature, p. 380; September 1, 2007, Jonathan I. Flombaum, review of Thinking with Animals, p. 308.
Reviews in American History, June 1, 1994, Ronald Tobey, review of The State of Nature, p. 277 March 1, 2008, "Knowing Nature through Labored Breathing: A Modern History of Allergy," p. 109.
Science, January 5, 2001, Thomas Lovejoy, review of Reel Nature, p. 50.
Science News, August 4, 2007, review of Breathing Space, p. 79.
SciTech Book News, December 1, 1992, review of The State of Nature, p. 20.
Times Literary Supplement, September 8, 2000, Stephen Mills, review of Reel Nature, p. 10.
Weekly Standard, December 17, 2007, Kevin R. Kosar, "Scratch ‘n’ Sniff; When the Body Overreacts, All Hell Breaks Loose."
Wilson Quarterly, fall, 2007, "Gesundheit!," p. 106.
E-Streams: Electronic Reviews of Science & Technology References,http://www.e-streams.com/ (September, 2005), Jitka Hurych, review of Thinking with Animals; (September, 2005), Robert B. Ridinger, review of Thinking with Animals.
Garamond Agency Web site,http://www.garamondagency.com/ (September 15, 2008), author profile.
Gregg Mitman Home Page,http://gmitman.com (September 15, 2008).
University of Wisconsin at Madison History of Science Department Web site,http://histsci.wisc.edu/ (September 15, 2008), faculty profile.
Women's Radio Web site,http://www.womensradio.com/ (September 15, 2008), author profile.