Benjamin R. Cohen


Notes from the Ground was published in paperback in 2011 (to accompany the 2009 hardback). The book examines the cultural conditions that brought agriculture and science together in nineteenth-century America. MIT published my co-edited book, Technoscience and Environmental Justice: Expert Cultures in a Grassroots Movement, also in 2011.


My current research project, “The Pure and the Adulterated: Cheating on Nature in the Age of Manufactured Food,” is a study of food purity, environmental change, and cultural values of authenticity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The work-in-progress uses debates about adulteration—contaminated or corrupted food, primarily—to examine how industrial practices have challenged cultural ideas of “nature” and “natural” and how those challenges resulted in new science-based environmental regulation. Two publications offer further introductions to the project, one an academic article in Endeavour, “Analysis as Border Patrol,” the other an essay in The Appendix, “The Appearance of Being Earnest.”




December 16, 2014

Best, Worst, or Only: Hanukah Film Edition,” at McSweeney’s

December 10, 2014

Final podcasts hosted here at SoundCloud for FYS 18: Ten Ways to Know Nature

December 8, 2014

Final capstone project reports hosted here for EGRS 451: Engineering and Society

November 25, 2014

Digital Humanities Projects at Lafayette with updates on

November 10, 2014

Should the FDA regulate ‘natural’?” in the NYT

October 31, 2014

The 2014 Candy Hierarchy

at BoingBoing (and SCQ)

October 30-31, 2014

Green Capitalism” conference at the Hagley Museum, Newark, DE

October 23, 2014

The Appearance of Being Earnest,” at The Appendix

October 15, 2014

The Candy Hierarchy survey at

October 7, 2014

Digital Humanities & GIS Mapping, Noon, Skillman Library

[more news and reviews here]

© 2010-2014 | B.R. Cohen

Welcome. I am an assistant professor in the Engineering Studies and Environmental Studies Programs at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. (From 2005-2011, I was a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society [STS] at the University of Virginia.) Holding STS, history, and environmental studies together, my interests sit at the intersection of the histories of science, technology, and the environment, with particular attention to industrial agriculture from the 19th century to today. I’m also, as it were, a writer for a variety of non-academic forums. [more here]

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"The world is full of light and life, and the true crime is not to be interested in it." A.S. Byatt