Human knowledge is transient. At every moment, scientific research is overturning older models of understanding. But while the scientific process is ongoing, most people receive only small glimpses into the way scientific paradigms are regularly theorized, constructed, and overturned. We cling to antiquated facts, unable to keep up with the rapid pace of discovery. Or, at times, we reject new information that might force us to give up our most cherished ideas. Any time that we pause our process of discovery to proclaim that something is just true, and any time that we fill the gaps of our evidence in with speculation, we inhabit the world of science fiction.

In this course, we will be carefully examining the way that knowledge is created, and the channels by which it is distributed through our society.  We’ll begin with “paleofantasies” of cavemen in perfect union with their environments, and popular depictions of dinosaurs that keep creating “terrible lizards” rather than birdlike beings with feathers, lips, and gums. From there, we will examine the common myths surrounding human sexuality and reproduction. In the final section of the course, you will choose one example of an invented technology, and you will research it’s cultural life—not only its history of production, but also the hopes, promises, and fears that it generates.

Homework consists of the following:

Paper 1: History
Paper 2: Sex and Reproduction
Paper 3: Technology
Annotated Bibliography
Reading Responses
In-Class Work and Participation