ENGL 578 B1: Representing Science

Jamie Baron

In this graduate seminar, we will examine the various ways in which science and scientific theories have been documented, presented, and popularized through both written and audiovisual media. In a moment in which trust in science has been actively and intentionally eroded, it is crucial that we try to understand the ways in which science has been presented to the public and, in tandem, how it has been – at times – discredited. By looking at texts ranging from popular science books and magazines to documentaries and videos about scientific phenomena to films and videos that seek to question the validity of scientific theories, we will attempt to theorize how scientific knowledge has been both bolstered and undermined by popular representations. Readings and screenings will form the basis for asking some of the following questions: How have popular written and audiovisual technologies like magazines, cinema, animation, and digital imaging changed the way that we understand the human body, the cosmos, temporality, and our relationship to our natural environment? What does it mean to produce “real” representations of things that are invisible, imperceptible, or inaccessible? How have those who oppose accepted scientific theories used the same technologies to cast doubt upon those theories?