Location: Bowdoin / David Hecht


David K. Hecht

Associate Professor of History

Contact Information


Hubbard Hall - 12

Teaching this semester

HIST 2202 / ENVS 2420. The History of Energy

David Hecht
Explores how and why Americans (and others) have made the energy choices that they have. The production and distribution of energy is one of the key challenges for modern societies. It involves the development of specific technologies and industries- from fossil fuels to solar power to nuclear plants. But the history of energy transcends the technical. It intersects with law, politics, and economics; social norms and cultural values play a role as well. The connections between the technical and non-technical are central to understanding both the history of energy itself, as well as its place in the history of the modern Unites States.This course is part of the following field(s) of study: United States.

INTD 3001. Public Health and the Liberal Arts

David Hecht
Focuses on the study of health from a wide array of disciplinary perspectives—across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Weekly guest lectures from Bowdoin faculty and visiting scholars forms the core; possible topics include epidemiology, medical ethics, environmental health, public policy, disability, nutrition, pharmaceuticals, health inequalities, and mental illness—as well as the history, globalization, and literary representations of health.

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.