Spring 2015 - Graduate Course Descriptions

Gossin, Pamela
Discipline and Number
HUHI 7387 Section 001
F Time 10:00 AM - 12:45 PM
Course Title
Greeks to Geeks

Description of Course:


In this interdisciplinary history course we will ask such questions as: Where did science come from? How did human beings begin to make sense of the natural world and their part in it? How did the processes of observation, imagination, invention and discovery work to shape our understanding of the natural world both then, and now?

By exploring many different kinds of source materials and texts, we will trace the origins and development of western science and its construction of natural knowledge from the ancient world through the near present. In the process, we will gain experience with different scholarly and pedagogical approaches, paying special attention to a variety of best-practices for integrating interdisciplinary methods and texts into humanistic inquiry and teaching.

Among our central inquiries will be: 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? Was there such a thing as the "Scientific Revolution"? 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? How can the untold (or undertold) histories of women's contributions to math and science help us construct more meaningful stories for the 21st century?

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 specific technical or scientific background is required.

Course objectives:

Students will read, discuss and write about a wide variety of source materials (literature, film, historical texts and interpretations) and will demonstrate the ability to interpret and analyze themes and issues using various critical methods, including literary, historical, biographical and cultural approaches.

Required Texts:

REQUIRED TEXTS (for purchase) -- TBA (will announce 7-9 texts on the full syllabus whichwill be posted on Course Lookup in December)

Hankins, Thomas, Science and the Enlightenment, selections
Women in Science, selected articles
other selected chapters
Galileo's Battle for the Heavens, video/dvd (for outside viewing)

ADDITIONAL REQUIRED TEXT (everyone will need to purchase or check out ONE of these (or something similar/pre-approved), but NOT until you have formed your project groups!)

Select ONE from one of the 3 categories/columns below:

Sobel, Galileo's Daughter
Heiligman, Charles and Emma
Brock, Comet Sweeper
Goodall, Reason for Hope or Jane's Journey
McGrayne, Nobel Prize Women
Maddox, Rosalind Franklin
Gornick, Women in Science
Des Jardins, The Madame Curie Complex

- Marlowe, Dr. Faustus
- Galileo, Sidereus Nuncius
- Swift, Gulliver's Travels
- Carson, Silent Spring
- Feynman, Surely You're Joking

Macdonald, Feminine Ingenuity
Weitekamp, Right Stuff, Wrong Sex
Isaacson, Innovators
Turkle, ed. Falling for Science
Seife, Zero or Proofiness
Numbers, Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

Graded Assignments / Course Requirements: (each counts 1/3rd of total grade)

1. Attendance and participation (A&P): includes daily attendance, in-class participation, film critiques, peer review

2. One 3-4 page book review/critique and One 10-15 min. discussion leader presentation

3. 8-10 page conference style paper and presentation (in-class or video format) based on
individual contribution to small-group project

EXTRA CREDIT: Listen in class for ideas and info!

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