history of science dept. 
university of oklahoma 

hm00431_(t).gif (2761 bytes)   science and 
    popular culture 
                                 hsci 1133  spring 2009

assoc. prof.
 katherine pandora
office hours:
mon/wed 1:00-2:30
 and by appt.
office: phsc 619
phone: 405.325.3427

intro    books&videos    class schedule    assignments

new! scipop blog: petri dish


In this class we'll be looking at how ideas about science and ideas from science appear in our everyday lives in ways that we take for granted: encounters with science in popular culture.  We'll study how science and scientists have been portrayed in popular media from the scientific revolution to our own time, and also explore how ideas about nature and science merge at entertainment sites such as museums and zoos. We'll consider the tensions between scientific experts and the lay public, ponder some of the mysteries of the universe and of our own planet, think about the call of the wild in a highly technological age, and take a look at the future that never happened. In looking closely at what happens when science and popular culture meet, you'll even learn to see the present-day as future history.  

There are three major components to this course: 1) What we do in class together (lecture presentations, small group exercises, video viewings, discussions); 2) Your weekly reading, which includes the assigned books, supplemental handouts, and weblinks; and 3) Individual writing projects and essay exams. Each of these components are designed to allow you to integrate the material in a manner that is meaningful to you. 

The goals for this course are for students to gain an awareness of how science is an aspect of the wider culture in different eras; to analyze the historical roots of contemporary practices; and to develop critical thinking skills that will be useful as citizens living in a world continuing to be shaped by the scientific enterprise. 

Books, Videos, etc.

(of the first two, pick one: either E.A. Poe or A.C. Doyle)
Edgar Allen Poe. Tales of Terror and Detection.
Arthur Conan Doyle. Six Great Sherlock Holmes Stories.
Christopher Frayling.  Mad, Bad, and Dangerous? The Scientist
    and the Cinema.

David Standish. The Hollow Earth: The Long and Curious
    History of Imagining Strange Lands, Fantastical Creatures,
    Advanced Civilizations and Marvelous Machines Below the
    Earth's Surface.

Lynne Cox. Grayson.
Daniel Wilson. Where's My Jetpack? A Guide to the Amazing
    Science Fiction Future that Never Arrived. 

Supplemental Readings as noted on the syllabus

videos / films
Columbo: "A Stitch in Crime" (1973)
"Our Friend the Atom" (1954)
Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959 and 2008 / excerpts)
Miss Goodall and the Wild Chimpanzees (1965)
The Simpsons:
"The Genesis Tub" (1996)
The World of Tomorrow

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images of 
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and science
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nature and 

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science fiction 

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