Fall 2010 - Graduate Course Descriptions

Gossin, Pamela
Discipline and Number
HUHI 7368 Section 001
R Time 1:00 PM - 3:45 PM
Course Title
Hist of Sci: Ancient to Newton

Description of Course:



RECOMMENDED FOR: Doctoral-level status, advanced graduate students in HUSL, HUHI and ATEC interested in the interdisciplinary relations between the arts / humanities and science / medicine.

Where did science come from? How did human beings begin to make sense of the natural world and their part in it? How are the same processes of imagination, invention and discovery still at work today in shaping human cultures’ understanding of natural phenomena? What roles did those from various knowledge bases and “disciplinary” backgrounds play in the evolution of science?
In this interdisciplinary history course we will ask those questions (and more!) as we read and discuss texts of natural philosophy, the history of science, scientific biography and literature. We will trace the origins and development of western science and its construction of natural knowledge from the ancient world through the near present. From philosophical, scientific and literary points of view, we will explore whether there was any such thing as the “Scientific Revolution,” and if so, how the “revolutionary” changes in world views influenced human life on social, political and personal levels. How do scientific ideas and technological developments continue to transform our minds, bodies and lives today?
The central inquiries of this class will focus on these questions: What is “nature”? What is “natural”? What is “supernatural”? How have our definitions of such concepts changed over time and altered our ideas about what it means to be “human”? Do we “discover” order in the universe or do we “invent” it? How have the relationships between (and relative values and roles of ) imagination, faith and reason shifted from the ancient world through the early modern period into the present? With what consequences?
Class meetings will include lecture, discussion, films and student presentations as we examine developments in magic and alchemy, astronomy and cosmology, natural history, the history of medicine, life sciences, and experimental science. NO TECHNICAL or SCIENTIFIC BACKGROUND IS REQUIRED. Student research projects and presentations will focus on connecting the historical and literary “perspectives” on the Sci. Rev. presented in class to modern (18thc to contemporary) developments in science, through a relevant scientific biography or autobiography, work of “literary science” or text about inventions, technology or mathematics (students’ choice).

Required Texts:

REQUIRED TEXTS -- literature and science:
Marlowe, Christopher, Dr Faustus
Baigrie, Brian, Scientific Revolutions: Primary Texts in the History of Science
Appleman, Philip, ed., Darwin
Feynman, Richard, Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman
Watson, James, The Double Helix

REQUIRED TEXTS – history and philosophy of science:
Crowe, Michael, Theories of the Worlds: From Antiquity to the Copernican Revolution
Dear, Peter, The Intelligibility of Nature: How Science Makes Sense of the World
Gleick, James, Isaac Newton
Holmes, Richard, The Age of Wonder
Shapin, Steven, The Scientific Revolution

Hankins, Thomas, Science and the Enlightenment (may also be purchased at Half-Price Books)
Women in Science, selected articles (on electronic reserve)

ADDITIONAL REQUIRED TEXT (STUDENT’S CHOICE, with prof. approval; available at UTD bookstore, library, Off-Campus, Half-Price, Amazon etc). Students must select one additional text or set of texts from one of these 3 categories: Biography /Autobiography, “Literary” Science or Inventions/Tech/Math. Brief sample list below:

Sobel, Galileo’s Daughter - Poems:Crowe+Butler, Thomson* Jardine, Ingenious Pursuits
Heiligman, Charles and Emma - Swift, Gulliver’s Travels Macdonald, Femin.Ingenuity
Brock, Comet Sweeper - Fontenelle, Conversations Weitekamp, Rt Stuff, Wrg Sex
Goodall, Reason for Hope - Galileo, Sidereus Nuncius Sobel, Longitude
McGrayne, Nobel Prize Women - Wilson, Anthill: A Novel Turkle,Falling for Science
Maddox, Rosalind Franklin - Overbye, Einstein in Love Seife, Zero
Gornick, Women in Science - Eiseley, Immense Journey Clark, Sun Kings
+ students’ choice** + students’ choice** + students’ choice**

** For texts not on this list, please get prior approval :-)

Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

Attendance and participation (A&P) = 1/3rd of grade

One 15 min. in-class presentation / instructional lesson over a scientific biography or scientific autobiography = 1/3rd of grade

One 12-15 pp analytical and interpretative paper / lesson plan over a scientific biography or scientific autobiography = 1/3rd of grade

* Optional extra credit/enrichment opportunities may be used to enhance A&P grade. Listen for more info on these in class

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