In an ongoing initiative to increase connections
between science and film at Wesleyan, a series of programs will be presented
in April. This part of the series, arranged by Film Studies and
Natural Sciences and Mathematics, is the last in the "Celebrating the
Liberal Arts Tradition Through Film" program in which over 18 departments
This is the fifth semester the Film Studies Department has hosted the series
of seminars, lectures, screenings and discussions.
“Film was born out of science, and now science is being reborn through
film,” says Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies,
chair of the Film Studies Department and curator of Cinema Archives.
“Both film and science are about time and space and require the ability for
acute observation. We are thrilled by the opportunity to collaborate with
our science colleagues.”
The programs are of particular interest to students enrolled in “Science and
Film: Defining Human Identity,” taught by Bob Lane, assistant professor of
molecular biology and biochemistry, and Scott Higgins, assistant professor
of film studies.
The upcoming programs include:
"A "Search for
Extraterrestrial Intelligence" program will begin at 5 p.m. April 10 with a screening of “CONTACT” from 1997, starring Jodie Foster and
Matthew McConaughey. It will be shown in The Goldsmith Family Cinema at 5 p.m.
Around 8 p.m. there will be a panel discussion led by Bryan Butler,
staff scientist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and science
advisor to the film; Fred Cohan, professor of biology at Wesleyan; and Peter
Gottschalk, associate professor of religion at Wesleyan. Butler will comment
on the "Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence" program depicted in the
film and for which radio wavelength observations have been a major
component. He will also discuss his experiences as a science advisor to this
film, and share his perspectives about the use of science in Hollywood
Cohan will comment on the origins of life on this planet, and the prospects
of finding life elsewhere in the universe. Gottschalk will discuss how
empirical science has historically challenged both anthrocentric and
theocentric views in Western cultures and religions, and compare how
discovery of life elsewhere in the universe would mirror the Copernicus
Following the short presentations, the audience will be invited to ask
questions and share perspectives on these topics. This event is open to the
The films and lectures are supported by the Edward W. Snowdon Fund; the Fund
for Innovation; the Deans of Divisions I, II, and III; the Molecular Biology
and Biochemistry Department; the Astronomy Department; the Film Studies
Department and the Cinema Archives.