Christopher   Leslie

Christopher Leslie

Lecturer
Co-Director, Science and Technology Studies

Technology, Culture and Society

Biography

My first day of work at what was then Polytechnic University was supposed to be 12 September 2001. Because of the 9-11 attacks, when I arrived at the school for an 8 am recitation, the doors were locked. I began my job as a Writing Consultant in the Introduction to Engineering course a week later.

In the years that followed, this inauspicious beginning served as a touchstone for my experience. While others focused on death and destruction, people at the School of Engineering were impressed how the design of the towers allowed them to stand for so long, permitting so many to escape. Everyone mourned the loss of first responders, but while at Poly I learned that there may have been fewer deaths if they had not still been using analog radios. I was inspired by the seriousness of engineering in the world: not only were my students learning how to solve problems, but they were also facing the responsibility of getting the right technical solutions into the hands of people who need them. I felt a natural fit with the school because my research examined the connections between science and society.

The affinity I felt for engineering was nothing new to me, however. I started out as an undergraduate at the State University of New York at Fredonia with the intention of completing a 3-2 program in engineering and, even though I changed majors, I never went far from STEM. In particular, in my master’s degree seminar papers I sought to combine my interests in science and literature, and the American Studies program offered an interdisciplinary environment where I could do so. In my master’s thesis, I examined how science and literature had worked together at the beginning of the 20th century.

I became a full-time member of the faculty in 2006 while I was a Ph.D. student at the City University of New York's Graduate Center. As I was finishing my dissertation, I was also involved in service at Poly. I was a part of the team of faculty members involved in the process to create new majors in our department, one of them being our current Science and Technology Studies bachelor of science. In designing this major, I was conscious of my own effort to combine technical and scientific knowledge with the humanities and social sciences; thus, STS students must complete at least one-third of their undergraduate courses in science and engineering and at least another third in humanities or social science courses applied to STEM. As the STS program has continued to grow, I have served as co-director of the major and its related curricular and research program with Professor Jon Bain.

I have continued to offer my service to the School of Engineering in various other ways. I am the coordinator of the Writing Consultants in the Introduction to Engineering course. I have also taken part in the task of developing premed advising and support with Tommy Lee, Alexandra Seidenstein and Sara-Lee Ramsawak for students at the School of Engineering. Although a network already existed for NYU students, we were able to extend it to students at the School of Engineering. In 2014, I was nominated to be the first Faculty Fellow in Residence for the School of Engineering residence halls. I live full-time in Othmer Hall, the first faculty member from the School of Engineering selected by this NYU program. Finally, I am a member of a group of faculty and staff, headed by Prof. Jin Montclare, dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship among students and faculty.

In recent years, my service activities have expanded beyond the School of Engineering. I was named to the executive committee for SIGCIS, the computer and information science group affiliated with the Society for the History of Technology. For the past three years, I have been on the planning committee for the New York Metro American Studies Association (NYMASA) annual conference and am now a member of NYMASA's executive board. Last fall, I was also appointed to the advisory board of NYU’s Humanities Initiative. I am also the vice chair for the International Federation of Information Processing's History of Computing Working Group 9.7, and am conference chair of that group's upcoming conference to be held at the School of Engineering in May 2016.

Journal Articles

“As We Should Have Thought: The Intellectual Legacy of the Memex,” forthcoming in Technology and Culture. 

Half Fish, Half Monster: Shakespeare’s Caliban and the Performance of Natural History,” guest contribution to Forum 16 (Spring 2013): Un/Natural Histories.

“Scholarly Humanities Websites: Silos to Withstand a Siege,” Romance Studies Journal (2012): 103–24.

“‘Fighting an Unseen Enemy’: The Infectious Paradigm in the Conquest of Pellagra,” Journal of Medical Humanities 23 (Winter 2002), 187–202.

Other Publications

“A Student-Led Approach to Promoting Teamwork in an Introductory Engineering Presentation,” with Gunter Georgi and Alyssa D’Apice. Proceedings of the 2015 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition. 

“Aesthetic Tourists: The Sheltering Sky’s Critique of Modernism,” forthcoming in Paul Bowles: The New Generation. Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi B.V., 253–263.

“Fostering Innovation in STEM through the Application of Science and Technology History.” Proceedings of the 2014 IEEE Integrated STEM Education Conference (ISEC).

“Ingenuity in Isolation: Poland in the International History of the Internet,” with Patrick Gryczka. Proceedings of the 11th International Federation of Information Processing’s Technical Committee conference on Human Choice and Computers, ed. Kai Kimppa et al., 162–75.

“Asia,” “Deep Packet Inspection,” and “Innovation and Technology.” Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics, Kerric Harvey, ed. SAGE Publications.

“Social Definitions of Race” and “Slavery: Lasting Cultural Effects of Biological Determinism.” Encyclopedia of Human Services and Diversity, ed. Linwood H. Cousins. SAGE Publications.

“John T. Chambers: Cisco Systems,” “Federico Faggin: Intel” and “John McCarthy: Creator of the Lisp Programming Language.” Computer Technology Innovators: Internet Innovators, Salem Press.

“Literature and Ethnic Diversity,” “Science and Technology,” “History of and How the Census Works,” and “Science and Technology." Multicultural America: A Multimedia Encyclopedia. Carlos E. Cortes, ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2013.

“Competing Histories of Technology: Recognizing the Vital Role of International Scientific Communities behind the Innovation of the Internet.” Making the History of Computing Relevant: IFIP Advances in Information and Computer Technology 416, Arthur Tatnall, Tilly Blyth, and Roger Jonson, eds. New York: Springer, 2013: 196–206.

Review of Media Clusters: Spatial Agglomeration and Content CapabilitiesScience and Public Policy 40.4 (2013): 559–60.

“Sequencing the Genome, Naturalising Race.” Review essay of Revisiting Race in a Genomic Age, edited by Barbara A. Koenig, Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, and Sarah S. Richardson; What’s the Use of Race?: Modern Governance and the Biology of Difference, edited by Ian Whitmarsh and David S. Jones, and Race and the Genetic Revolution: Science, Myth, and Culture, edited by Sheldon Krimsky and Kathleen Sloan, Science as Culture 21.4 (December 2012): 573–81.

"China and the Internet." Review essay of Guobin Yang, The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online, Susan L. Shirk (ed.), Changing Media, Changing China, and David Kurt Herol and Peter Marolt (eds.), Online Society in China, Media, Culture, and Society 34.8 (November 2012): 1059–63.

"Unstable Reality in the Age of Big Science: The Counterhegemonic Strategies of Jack Vance, J. G. Ballard, and Philip K. Dick," Batı Edebiyatında İdeoloji (Ideology in Western Literature). Ertuğrul İşler, et al., eds. İzmir: Ata Matbaası, August.

"Decolonizing the Internet" (review essay of Cyrus Farivar, The Internet of Elsewhere: The Emergent Effects of a Wired World, Jaffer Sheyholislami, Kurdish Identity, Discourse, and New Media, and Miriyam Aouragh, Palestine Online: Transnationalism, Communications and the Reinvention of Identity), Global Media and Communication 8.1 (April 2012): 81–8.

“Isaac Asimov: I, Robot.” The Literary Encyclopedia. April 2012. http://www.litencyc.com.

Review of Science Fiction and Computing: Essays on Interlinked Domains. SFRA Review 300 (Spring 2012): 16–17.

“The Rise of the Confident Reader.” Review essay in American Quarterly,  63.4 (December 2011): 1051–62.

Review Essay: The Master Switch, In the Plex and The Net Delusion for the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 62.12 (December 2011): 2540–45.

Metacognition through Group Practice in New Media,” Media/Culture 9:2 (May 2006). 

“Writing Self-Assessment for First-Year Engineering Students: Initial Findings,” Proceedings of the 2004 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, June 2004. With Elisa Linksy and Gunter Georgi.

Education

The Graduate Center of the City University of New York

Doctor of Philosophy, English

The Graduate Center of the City University of New York

Master of Arts, American Studies

Awards + Distinctions

Samuel Eleazar and Rose Tartakow Levinson Prize for an original essay in the intellectual history of technology, Society for the History of Technology, 2011.

Fulbright Grant: Guest professor at the Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Univertität Potsdam, Germany, 2008-2009.

Robert Adams Day Prize for the best dissertation involving interdisciplinary work, 2007.

Affiliations

  • Vice Chair, International Federation of Information Processing History of Computing Working Group 9.7
  • Board Member, New York Metropolitan American Studies Association
  • Board Member, New York University Center for the Humanities
  • Communication Officer, Society for the History of Technology's Special Interest Group on Computers and Information Science
  • Society for the Social Studies of Science
  • Science Fiction Research Association
  • Modern Language Association

Research Interests

  • History of Science and Technology: media and technology in the 20th century, interantional communities of the Internet, history of the race concept, social construction of science and technology
  • Humanities: digital humanities, science fiction and utopian literature, literary modernism

General / Collaborative Research

“Information Retrieval Techniques to Model Disciplinary Change in the Humanities,” seed grant for collaborative research with Bill Blake, Assistant Professor of English and Drama, College of Arts and Sciences; Lisa Gitelman, professor of English and of Media, Culture, and Communication at the Steinhardt School and College of Arts and Sciences, and Torsten Suel, professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of NYU

“Text and Technology” with Lisa Gitelman, a collaborative teaching grant from Humanities Initiative at NYU, 2013-2014.