Honors/Seeing is Believing
Term: Spring 2020 - Full Term (01/21/2020 - 05/04/2020)
Times & Locations
|Start Date||End Date||Days||Time||Location|
|1/21/2020||5/4/2020||MWF||10:10am - 11:00am||HS 126|
This course explores the various ways that scientists, philosophers, poets, musicians, and literary theorists have tried to reconcile what we see (or think we see) with what we know (or what we think we know) from antiquity to the 21st-century. We shall approach the Copernican Revolution as a watershed moment not only for science but for culture as well. We also will explore the impact of subsequent revolutions in science (Darwinism, Einstein’s theory of relativity, Chaos Theory, and Quantum Mechanics) on the arts and humanities. What are the benefits of taking an interdisciplinary approach to science, culture, and the arts? What are the limitations?
This course is part of a four-course Honors symposium titled “The Copernican Lens: Dawn and Limits of Certainty in Physical Science and the Humanities.” Taking its point of departure from the revolution in cosmology introduced by Nicolaus Copernicus, the symposium explores the implications of the Newtonian system of physics and its subsequent displacement by the probabilistic and apparently more subjective systems of relativity and quantum theory. The implications of this transformation are traced in the realms of literary and visual cultures, philosophical ideas about humans’ place in the world, and historical understandings of the development of science itself.
The course qualifies for “Humanities” credit in the Discovery Program because it focuses primarily on humanistic responses (in literature, visual culture, music, philosophy, and literary criticism) to changing paradigms of scientific inquiry, with a special focus on the Copernican Revolution. By closely examining literary texts and cultural critique, students will gain an understanding of the methods of literary analysis and critical thinking.
This course is open to all students, FR-SR. You do not have to have an Honors affiliation to enroll.
This course satisfies HUMA in Discovery.
Students will be expected to purchase the following titles in paperback editions:
- Thomas S. Kuhn, The Copernican Revolution (Harvard, 1976).
- Rob Iliffe, Newton: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2007).
- Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago, 2012).
- Dante, The Inferno
- Galileo Galilei, The Starry Messenger
- John Milton, Paradise Lost