English R1A

Reading and Composition: Science and Literature

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
8 Spring 2005 Jhoanna Infante
TTh 2-3:30 204 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

"Shelley, M.: Frankenstein.

Stevenson, R.L.: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Hawthorne, N.: 'Rappaccini's Daughter,' 'The Birthmark.'

Poe, E.A.: 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue'; 'The Pendulum.' "


"Several of last year's Hollywood movies-I, Robot, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and Van Helsing-seem to register a continuing anxiety that scientists lack a moral sense and cannot control their invented technologies. Neither this anxiety that science and technology could pass some moral boundary and endanger society, nor its expression in imaginative work, is new. In the 19th century, poets and fiction writers such as Mary Shelley and Robert Louis Stevenson engage with questions regarding science and society: Should scientific inquiry be controlled and restrained? If so, how? What are the moral limits of scientific inquiry? What are the dangers of technology? Are scientists moral enough to be trusted with the power of technology? Who is moral enough and why? What is the role of the imagination in both scientific invention and artistic production? What perspective do women have on the power of science? Should poets and novelists (who are non-specialists and non-scientists) intervene?

In this course, you will not only read 19th century critiques of science but also develop and practice your own skills in critical reading and writing. In five essays of varying length (2-4 pages), you will develop skills in close reading, comparative thinking, and analytical writing. You will also develop skills in revision, editing, and peer-response. This course fulfills the first part of the undergraduate reading and composition requirement.

Required texts include the Norton edition (2002) of Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Broadview edition (1997) of Shelley's Frankenstein, and a course reader. The reader will contain selected poetry by British poets Hardy, Wordsworth, P.B. Shelley, Barbauld, Keats, and Coleridge, as well as short stories by American authors Poe and Hawthorne. "

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