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Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
901 South Bond Street, Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Phone: 443-287-9960 | Fax: 443-287-9920

November 8, 2004
CONTACT: Lisa De Nike
(443) 287-9906

JHU Course Catalog:
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.

Robert Kargon
Photo by HPS/Will Kirk

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."
—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 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."
Matthew Bufano, junior computer engineering major from Monkton, Md.

Color photos of Kargon in class are available upon request. Contact Lisa De Nike.

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