Location: Bowdoin / David Hecht


David K. Hecht

Associate Professor of History

Contact Information


Hubbard Hall - 12

Teaching this semester

HIST 1023 / GSWS 1031. Science, Sex, and Politics

David Hecht
Examines the intersection of science, sex and politics in twentieth-century United States history. Issues of sex and sexuality have been contested terrain over the past hundred years, as varying conceptions of gender, morality, and proper sexual behavior have become politically and socially controversial. Explores the way that science has impacted these debates-- often as a tool by which activists of varying political and intellectual persuasions have attempted to use notions of scientific objectivity and authority to advance their agendas. Explores debates over issues such as birth control, eugenics, abortion, and the “gay gene.” Note: This course is part of the following field(s) of study: United States.

David Hecht


B.A. Brandeis University, History
Ph.D., Yale University, History of Science (2005)

Teaching Areas

  • History of Science; 20th Century United States; The Cold War.

David K. Hecht is a historian of science, focusing on the modern United States. His particular interest is in public images of science, and he has published on the phenomenon of "scientific celebrities." His book Storytelling and Science: Rewriting Oppenheimer in the Nuclear Age will be published in May 2015 (University of Massachusetts Press), and he is currently researching a second book project, Rachel Carson and the Challenge of Environmentalism. Other scholarly interests include the history of energy, as well as the role that popular rhetoric about science plays in reinforcing (and sometimes challenging) the status quo. His courses including "The Nuclear Age," "The History of Energy," "Image, Myth, and Memory," and "Science and Society." In 2011 he was awarded the Sydney B. Karofsky prize, Bowdoin's annual teaching prize for junior faculty.

Storytelling and Science: Rewriting Oppenheimer in the Nuclear Age. (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2015)

“How To Make a Villain: Rachel Carson and the Politics of Anti-Environmentalism,” Endeavour 36 (December 2012): 149-155.

 “Constructing a Scientist: Expert Authority and Public Images of Rachel Carson,” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 41 (Summer 2011): 277-302.

 “A Nuclear Narrative: Robert Oppenheimer, Autobiography, and Public Authority,” Biography 33 (Winter 2010): 167-184.

 “The Atomic Hero: Robert Oppenheimer and the Making of Scientific Icons in the early Cold War,” Technology and Culture 49 (October 2008): 943-966.