Summer 2009
Fully Enrolled

SOCS 627
Science and the Moving Image


06/22/2009 - 06/26/2009
Monday-Friday 09:00 AM - 05:00 PM

Public Affairs Center 422

"We are becoming people of the screen. The fluid and fleeting symbols on a screen pull us away from the classical notions of monumental authors and authority. On the screen, the subjective again trumps the objective... We are now in the middle of a second Gutenberg shift-- from book fluency to screen fluency, from literacy to visuality." -From the New York Times (Nov. 21, 2008).

As moving images become increasingly central to scientific and visual culture, their significance for the production of knowledge has become a source for wide-ranging discussions by cultural critics, scientists, artists, filmmakers, and historians. This one-week course will explore several issues arising from the contemporary emergence of scientific moving images as knowledge in the world today. What messages about science and scientific knowledge are communicated by film? Why do some types of scientific knowledge communicate better by images than words? What can scientific films teach us about the science, public history, and the history of film? What is the future of scientific moving images?

The class will look at five different uber-genres of moving scientific pictures: (a) films used as experimental scientific data, (b) science documentaries, (c) contemporary art/science mixers, (d) science fiction films, and (e) nature films. Each day we will look at and discuss 2 classic films in each of these categories and explore a variety of different topics in the history of film, science, art and history.

Sources to be studied will include Tim Boom, Film of Fact; Lawrence Weschler, Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Wonders of Jurassic Technology; Vivian Sobchack, Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film; Gregg Rickman, The Science Fiction Film Reader; Gregg Mitman, Reel Nature; as well as various scientific, nature, and science fiction films.

Students will write short papers in class at the end of each discussion and submit a 10-12 written paper on a topic of their choice at the end of the class session.

No background in film or science is expected or assumed.

Course tuition: $2022

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus

Jennifer Tucker (B.A., Stanford University; M. Phil., Cambridge University; Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University) is associate professor of history, science in society, and feminist and gender studies. She has published numerous essays on science, photography, and historical interpretation and is the author of Nature Exposed: Photography as an Eye Witness in Victorian Science (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005). In 2008 she is convening a multi-disciplinary workshop on "Photography and Historical Interpretation" for a special theme issue of the History and Theory journal. Among her current research projects is a monograph, Making Social Facts Visible: Photography, Medicine, and Humanitarian Campaigns in British Aid Organizations, 1880-1960. Click here for more information about Jennifer Tucker.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:

Register for Courses

Contact to submit comments or suggestions. 
Copyright Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, 06459