The Natural and the Artificial
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.
The instructor: Robert Kargon, Willis K. Shepard Professor in the History of Science.
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.
Coursework: Grades are based on class participation, one mid-semester quiz and a final examination.
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 old version); Bladerunner; A.I.
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."
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 freshmen 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."
Color photos of Kargon in class are available upon request. Contact Lisa De Nike.
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