Winter 2019 HC 222H: Science and the Cultural Imagination: Faustus to Ex Machina

Winter Term, 2018-2019

Professor: Rebecca Lindner

4.00 credits

CRN 23350: Tuesday & Thursday, 10:00 – 11:50 @ CHA 202

This course will explore the relationships between scientific enquiry and cultural imagination. We will consider the ways in which imaginative literature in particular, but also art, cinema, television, and news media, address scientific discoveries, events, and ideas. Taken together, the literary and visual media studied in this course will encourage us to re-examine the relationships between scientific and creative communities in order to draw conclusions about the role of creativity in scientific discourse and the role of cultural production in reflecting critically on scientific developments in a range of historical and cultural contexts.

From early modern explorations of the relationship between science, magic and the imagination, to the Romantics’ notions of sensibility and the natural world, to the emergence of ‘science fiction’ and evolutionary Darwinism in the nineteenth century, to the development of the twentieth-century post-human and beyond, this course will analyze such recurring themes as the ‘mad’ scientist; utopian and dystopian visions; bodies, minds and souls; intelligent machines and monsters; science fantasy and prophesy.

Students will be encouraged to develop their own analytical portfolio of texts that reflect the course themes. Titles studied in this course may include Doctor Faustus, New Atlantis, The Blazing World, Gulliver’s Travels, Frankenstein, Origin of the Species, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Asimov’s short stories, The Twilight Zone, Her, and Ex Machina.