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Caitlin Beasley
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We read short stories by literary authors this week: Ursula Le Guin's "Sur," Vandana Singh's "Indra's Web," and portions from John Steinbeck's Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday. I certainly enjoyed the reading and felt that I picked up on a few themes. As I'm sure was intended, all of the... Continue reading
Our reading this week from Marcus Wohlsen's Biopunk presented a different picture of the separation between lay and scientific knowledge than the one we have been painting in class. We have placed a lot of emphasis on the role of technical language in excluding the public from scientific discourse, and... Continue reading
In a 1957 study analyzing the way that high school students characterized scientists, Margaret Mead and Rhoda Metraux presented a set of incomplete sentences and asked students to finish them. For boys, the sentence read, "If I were going to be a scientist, I should like to be the scientist... Continue reading
The institutionalization of science is often associated with the diminishing role of lay knowledge in constructing meaningful ways of understanding the world. An easy, although over-simplified example can be found in late nineteenth-century biology and medicine. Once germ theory was accepted by most people, old explanations for disease based on... Continue reading
Throughout the semester, many of our discussions in seminar have come back around to science's separation from popular audiences. As scientific specialties get more technical and their technical languages become more sophisticated, fewer people are able to participate in the discourse. The effects of this separation are drastic, and we... Continue reading
We have been dealing a lot with the constructivist approach to the history of science thus far. The idea that science is very much a human creation, a framework through which we attempt to understand the world, underlies many recent contributions to the field. In this and last week’s readings,... Continue reading
In Maria Mitchell and the Sexing of Science, Renee Bergland highlights and explains many aspects of the nineteenth century American culture surrounding science, gender, and religion through the life of Maria Mitchell. What I found particularly interesting was her treatment of American science, something we have not seen a whole... Continue reading
It so happened that I read Kant's What is Enlightenment? directly before Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I was amazed by the contrast in the way knowledge and science were portrayed in the two works. In Kant's essay, a hopeful tone predominates; "the way is now being opened for... Continue reading
In his biography of Charles Darwin, Peter J. Bowler mentions many locations in which Darwin conducted research and had conversations with the scientific community of Victorian England. Bowler stresses the importance of Darwin's astute maneuvering of the scientific landscape; it allowed him to see his theory at least partially accepted... Continue reading
We talked briefly today in class about Schiebinger's use of the term "racist" in the description of a few 18th century naturalists. I find this problematic, especially when the terms "sexist" or "misogynist" are absent (I went back and looked for both this evening and was unsuccessful). And it wasn't... Continue reading
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Sep 8, 2016