Editor's note: This is part of an occasional series in
which reporters drop in on interesting classes throughout
the university's eight academic divisions.
THE COURSE: The Natural and the Artificial: The
Concept of the Man-Made Man. The course attempts to
illustrate society's changing understanding of science by
examining the concept of the artificial human being. It
begins with the Renaissance's "golem" legend and proceeds
through the Scientific Revolution/Enlightenment, the
Industrial Revolution and the 20th century. Limited to 25
students. 3 credits. Department of the History of Science
and Technology, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.
MEETING TIME: 2 to 4:30 p.m., Tuesdays, fall
THE INSTRUCTOR: Robert Kargon, Willis K. Shepard
Professor in the
TEACHING ASSISTANT: Andrew Russell, a second-year
graduate student in the history of technology.
SYLLABUS: The course is an appealing mix of
thought-provoking lecture, discussion and movie watching
(which takes place in the Milton S. Eisenhower Library's AV
Room). Lecture/discussion topics range from the role of
science and magic in the Renaissance to views of man and
machines during the Industrial Revolution to artificial
intelligence and the Internet.
COURSE WORK: Grades are based on class
participation, one midsemester quiz and a final
REQUIRED READING: R.U.R., by Karel Capek;
The Fourth Discontinuity, by Bruce Mazlish; He,
She and It, by Marge Piercy; Frankenstein, by
Mary Shelley; Island of Dr. Moreau, by H.G. Wells.
Students also read selections from Science and
Change, by Hugh Kearney; The Golem, by Chaim
Bloch; Man a Machine, by J.O. de la Mettrie; and
The Sandman, by E.T.A. Hoffmann.
FILMS VIEWED IN CLASS: The Golem; Frankenstein;
Island of Lost Souls; Colossus: The Forbin Project; The
Stepford Wives (the original version); Bladerunner;
OVERHEARD IN CLASS: "Romanticism is a predisposition
rather than a philosophy. When the French Revolution
decayed into repression and terror, some repudiated the
philosophies they linked with it and turned to a renewed
interest in the medieval period, in Gothic stories and in
the idea that there is more to the world than our reason
alone can tell us."
— Professor Kargon
STUDENTS SAY: "I first saw this class in that large
book given to JHU prospects. It caught my interest, but the
school didn't offer it in my freshman or sophomore year.
Only now have they offered it again, and I jumped on the
chance to take it. I love the class discussions; they're
really interesting and easy to get into. Overall, the class
is very interesting and enjoyable."
— Matthew Bufano, junior computer engineering
major from Monkton, Md.