Syllabus for Fall 2005: Advanced Writing: On the Natural Sciences and Technology

English 302:N08: Tues/Thurs, 1:30-2:45 pm, Robinson A109
English 302.N09: Tues.Thurs, 3:00-4:15 pm, Robinson A245

Dr Ellen Moody. My homepage address:;
for Course Materials, go to
My preferred email address is:

Advanced Writing: On the Natural Sciences and Technology

This is an advanced writing and English course. In some ways it may remind you of the introductory college freshmen writing course you took a few semesters ago. We will talk about how to write plainly and clearly, about how to construct arguments, how to synthesize materials to compose a research paper, about punctuation, documentation -- in short, about everything we can think of having to do with writing essays; and we will read and discuss full-length books as well as shorter stories and essays.

The course will, however, differ from introductory courses in writing and English in that you will be asked to use these skills to read writing by scientists and about sciences and their applied technologies. Since there is no science prerequisite for this course, our perspective and discussions cannot be too specialized or narrowly-focused on simply a single science or group of sciences, even if a fairly large number of students in the class are majoring in the same area of science. The background knowledge assumed is that of the typical generally-educated reader who has attained Junior status in a senior college.

Required Texts

Probable Films:

Required Writing:

You are required to write three essays outside class; to write book and film reviews in class (in lieu of a mid-term and final); to give one short talk in class; and to present a 2-3 minute report on the progress of your research paper. There will be a take-home test. There will be no quizzes and no closed book exams.

First Essay (#1)

Writing About How a Machine or Scientific Process Works or About the Composition of a Objects which has been designed and built (or created) by people. The basic aim of the science essay is often explanation, and the basis of good scientific writing an ability to use scientific and technical or complicated English in ways that a reader can understand. So the first of our essays is an exercise in which you use technical language and/or scientific concepts in order to explain something in a clear and engaging manner. Here are some suggestions for suitable topics:

How an airplane flies; or why a building doesn't fall down (you can use any kind of building); or how some aspect of the Internet works or how to use a computer; or how any of the following work: a radio or TV or car or roller coaster or ferris wheel or bicycle or vaccuum cleaner or coffee-maker or microwave oven or zipper or other household or personal appliance (e.g., eyeglasses, hearing aids, a wheelchair, food-processor, thermometer, doorknob). Then there are fax machines, xerox machines, elevators, subway systems, the internal combustion engine and sewing machines. You can explain objects which need man at the helm to operate them, like sailboats or cranes, because to make these work the individual using them has to have mechanical and scientific knowledge of nature.

The sort of object or process you are to choose is something which is man-made or depends on knowledge, manipulation, or transformations of nature which are done by people. It can therefore also be an object that is the result of a mechanical, chemical or other artificial process initiated by man (e.g., glass or steel).

You can also describe the process by which the object has been made or its history. If you are a humanities or social science major or would prefer to try something less technically-rooted, you can also explain processes which use things which occur in nature and which we use with little transformation by man. Cooking is not only an art; it is based on knowledge of nature. How did people learn to brew beer? What's wine? There's an important history behind the invention and use of ropes; there's an equally revealing history behind the invention of uses of ice or cloth.

And remember a machine or man-made object need not be made of metal or plastic, and it can be used for aesthetic pleasure or emotional uplift: you can explain how any musical instrument works or the history of how it comes to take the form it does. A ballet-shoe is a man-made object which enables women to dance on the edge of their toes. Furniture and toys may be included.

Your object need not be something technologically sophisticated; it can be a light-bulb or a pencil or a fountain pen. You can look at obsolete or older inventions: the windmill or a medieval knight's armor; you can go to the beginning of the industrial revolution for objects like the spinning jenny You can explain the process whereby a book is made or history of book-making.

You can also explain intellectual inventions like calendars.

You can write this satirically. Pretend you are a person from a community with no knowledge or experience of such objects and use your description to criticize the society which uses such objects. You can write this personally: tell how you or other members of your household or school use the object. In all cases, you should have a thesis-statement and a context. You should in the essay include the reason why your reader ought to know how your machine or process works. You don't want your reader to be asking him or herself, 'why should I read this?'.

To those who are saying to themselves, 'I'm not a scientist, I don't know the first thing about how things work. I turn the key in my car and it goes, period', I say, come in at the level that is natural to you and that will be natural to a college-level reader.

Remember clarity is a special concern in the natural sciences and technical writing. Your aim is to transmit technical information accurately and in a way that the reader will understand sufficiently to be able to use what he reads. The intent here is to practice using language which is jargon-free and analogies which actually help readers to visualize and explain something.

It is suggested you do some minimal research, and, therefore, you must document your sources and all verbatim quotations or paraphrases. We will review documentation before this essay is due. You may of course do research, but if you do please make sure your source is reliable and respected e.g., the Encyclopedia Britannica or a specialized encyclopedia in the relevant field is a wonderful source, but junk like World Book , Colliers, are not acceptable. If you take information from the World Wide Web or an e-mail group of any kind, be prepared to verify the expertise of the person whose e- mail you are quoting or the respectability of the host of the website whose information you are relying upon. Length: minimum 3-5 double-spaced typed pages.

Second Essay (#2)

Observing Nature. To be a good scientist you must learn to observe accurately and with as little bias as possible; the conveying of information based on such observation is another basic aim of writing in the natural sciences. Thus our second essay.

You are given the choice of writing about how an animal, or a plant, or some species of natural phenomena behaves. The idea of this essay is to describe nature in an objective and unbiased way, to say in words what it is one observes, and in so doing to explain something which occurs in the natural world without any man-made intervention or transformation.

Suggestions: you might try to develop or confirm a hypothesis about an animal or plant. Here what you do is research patterns of birth or development and watch their strategies for survival, for, obtaining food, for sleep, for creating an environment for themselves, for mating, for interactions with one another. The reason it's good to start with a hypothesis is it can help you decide what to to look for as you watch and, if you like, questions for further research.

The same remarks about clarity, research and length that apply to Essay #1 apply to Essay #2.

Third Essay (#3)

The Science of Medicine. Our last book by Ofri and 5 of the essays in Sacks's anthology are on the science of medicine as it is really experienced or exploited in our society. The goal here is to go into -- with as much depth as we can -- a single area of science which is today a huge industry in our society employing and affecting all people, not just the scientifically-, and technically-educated. I ask you to write our one required research essay about how a specific illness, or problem someone has which is treated medically, is experienced in our society, from both the viewpoints of the patient (or customer) and the physician (or anyone who practices some form of medicine). This will require that you understand the illness or condition the individual has, how it relates to what we define as health, its aetiology, and the treatments that are offered to help the individual cope or get better. Here are the options:

  1. You may write about how an illness has been treated in the past and is treated today. It need not be a lethal epidemic, but there is a good deal of literature on such illnesses. Examples: small pox, TB, influenza, cholera, measles, AIDS.
  2. You may write about a particular case history, kind of medical problem or condition. These include prolonging the life of someone who has permanently lost consciousness and procedures which are controversial. Examples: miscarriages (not well understood), artificial insemination, abortion, various kinds of very expensive procedures to replace organs and cancer therapies.
  3. The subject of your essay need not be a dramatic procedure or unusual condition. Just as interesting and perhaps more important are conditions people develop which they can live with for many years, but which require medical care, therapy, or surgical interventions. Such conditions include diabetes, diverticulosis, ulcers, all sorts of problems with the internal organization of the human body, epilepsy, migraine headaches.
  4. You may write some aspect of the medical profession. You can write about the way a hospital is organised; the education required of doctors and nurses or technicians. Questions you can ask yourself include: should nurse practitioners replace doctors in some aspect of daily care; if so, do they have to be better educated? what do we mean by better educated? You can also take what we discuss about cultural and social milieus and how people are treated in accordance with their perceived status and discuss how the class, race, gender, and status of someone or the perceived amount of money an individual is paying influences the quality of care that individual receives. You may also choose to discuss how our society should control and pay for medical treatment since it can powerfully affect individual lives and is expensive.
  5. I encourage students to write about their own experiences or those of close family members or friends in medicine. Part of the point of this part of the term's work is to encourage the student to think for him or herself, to take initiatives, and to consider science and technology in the context of real people's lives and the social and psychological and economical realities which impinge directly on real people.

This is to be a researched essay, but you are also encourged to use personal experiences. Length: minimum 3-5 double-spaced typed pages.

Four good sources are required. I ask that one of them be a book or essay from a reputable journal which you find in the library.

You can also use as one of your sources an expert (a medically-educated professonal) or individual who have had the illness you are writing about. The point is not to do original research (which you probably do not begin to have time for), but to learn to find and to integrate respectable researched materials into a cogent argument.

The Annotated Bibliography: As part of the researched essay, you will be asked to hand in an annotated bibliography. An annotated bibliography provides short summaries and evaluations of the books and essays used in a research paper. The skill of synopsis will be reviewed. Models will be provided.

An Abstract: You will also be asked to hand in an abstract of your own essay. We will in class learn to and practice the art of writing abstracts, of summarising, paraphrasing, and writing synopses.

The Short Talk

Talk is primary and writing secondary. I believe everyone can learn to write more clearly and enjoy writing more if he or she would only learn to talk on paper, to use the real language he or she might use in the classroom or any other natural situation which demands a certain coherence. Much of the advice you will find in John Trimble's Writing With Style is based on this belief. Most science and technical manuals advise the teacher to schedule short talks on topics taken from scientific issues or subject matter. A technical writer must learn to think of his material as something he is really communicating to someone else. The success of the communication of a technical writer is measured not only by how the reader or listener receives it, but by whether the reader or listener truly understands and can make use of what the technically-educated people say or write.

Thus, each student will be asked to prepare a coherent ten to fifteen minute talk for classroom presentation on the readings from one of the four books which is due the day he or she is scheduled to talk upon. The talks will begin the third week of the semester. Fundamentally what you must do is invent a clear instrumental thesis-statement and develop it coherently and concretely.

The whole class will listen and try to respond; their response will tell the student whether he or she has made him or herself clear; the ensuing dialogue and the student's own later thoughts about either what happened when he or she or another student talked will (it is hoped) teach everyone something about the basis of writing -- again, clear thinking in clear language which comes naturally to the speaker-writer.

Each student is asked to hand in an outline or cards (hand-written or typed) which he or she used to talk from, and I will return this material with the grade for the talk in the following session. I have provided a model in the form of a typed-out transcript of the talk one student gave on "Richard Feynman's Definition of a Good Experiment".

In-Class Open Book Book Writing:

Analysing Science Writing and Film. You will be asked to write book and film reviews in class in lieu of a closed book midterm and final. If you become a successful professional in any field, you may find yourself asked to review books, articles and films. The mode will be "open book:" you can bring any books, notes and a good draft to copy out if you like.

Together with the take-home exam on Trimble, the first book review you are asked to write takes the place of a midterm exam. It is to be on both Feynman books when we finish reading them and is to be written in class. The midterm will include questions on the four essays in the Sacks's volume we will have read by that time and which may be given out in class on the day before the midterm.

The other two book reviews, one film review, and a group of further questions on the essays in Sacks's Best Science Writing 2003 (given out in class) take the place of a final exam. The second book review will be a comparison of Olson's Mapping Human History and Wallace's Digging the Dirt; the third will be on Ofri's Singular Intimacies. The film review is to be on one choice, possibly taken from the following films: 1) Last Journey of a Genius; 2) Lost at Sea: The Search for Longitude; 3) In Search of the First Language; or 5) Wit.

Reviews follow a conventionalized format, which we will learn about. Here is an outline for a good book review:

  1. the book's context and intended audience;
  2. its thesis or theses;
  3. your evaluative statement about this thesis and the book's content;
  4. a synopsis or summary of its contents;
  5. an analysis of the book to reveal how the author's background or biases help or hinder the author and the quality of the evidence.

It is difficult to educate the general public about the natural sciences and applied technology. One way to do it is through film. We will discuss the difficulties of translating science as a topic into moving pictures and what are the means used by film-makers to overcome the technical problems as well as the problem of attracting audiences not well-educated in science. We will also discuss how a film review usually includes some or all of the following points:

  1. the film's producer, director, intended audience, and (if applicable) screenplay;
  2. its perspective (or "message");
  3. your evaluative statement about this perspective;
  4. a synopsis or summary of the story or literal content of the film;
  5. an analysis of the film's techniques (presentation of characters, use and juxtaposition of scenes, use of music), dialogue, use of real actors, and particular ending to discuss how well or poorly the film conveyed its perspective.

The reviews and questions on Trimble (see directly below) and Sacks are intended to test whether you read all the books with care, watched the films with attention, and to reward those who attended class and listened to the short talks. They will provide practice on how to select, elaborate upon and judge books and films.

The Take-Home Test

I will hand out a 10 question short answer test on John Trimble's Writing With Style. The answers required will not be a single word, but you should not have to write more than a short paragraph to answer each. I will hand it out shortly before the first book review is due. You write the answers at home and bring them in to class on the day of the midterm exam.

Reading and Class Attendance:

Assumptions behind this course : I think that 1) something is to be gained by coming to class, and that we all can learn a great deal from one another; 2) good writing can be discussed in simple words, and exemplified, learned, practiced, and improved through imitation of models; 3) people who write well are often people who read a lot; and 4) the only way to improve one's writing is by much practice over a long period of time; so:

  1. Classwork : I want everyone to attend class faithfully, to read all the books, and to participate in class discussions. I ask that you limit your unexcused absences to a minimum; I regard weeks of absence as one basis for a failing grade.
  2. Writing Assignments: I have allowed ample time for 1) writing and revision of each essay; for 2) discussion of student models to help you see what is expected and give you ideas on how to go about a particular task; and for 3) the class as a single group to listen to, analyse and comment on one or more of the essays someone in the class has written. I will try my best to write comments on your essays which can help you how better to organize your thoughts, correct your grammar, and write lucidly and engagingly.


By the end of the term there should be seven grades for each student on my roster. These I will average together to form the final grade. I should have six major grades: three for the three essays, one for the short talk, one for the midterm (an average of the take-home test on Trimble, a book review of the two Feynman books and short-answer questions on essays in Sacks's anthology), and one for the final (an average of the two book reviews, the first on Olson and Wallace; the second on of Ofri; more questions on essays in Sacks's volume, and a film review). I also give minor grades for the plans; they tell me how much thought and work you are putting into the paper; if you are working on it; they substitute for diaries; at the end of the term, I will factor them in as "class work" with any in-class writing we do (for which you get a check), and this becomes your seventh grade.

The short talk is due on the day set; if you miss an in-class writing, you must make it up at home (but it must be printed out, not hand-written); if your essay is late, the grade will be pulled down one element for every session, it is late. You must give your talk on the day cited on the short talk schedule so as to ensure only one person will talk on a given day. If you do not give your talk, you must take an F and that will be factored into your final grade.

For the final grade for the course also I take into account 1) your attendance record; 2) your plans and participation in class; and 3) if you came for help if you needed it in planning the essay, thinking up a perspective; organizing and revising it. I have no way of producing a number or letter grade for this; rather if you have come to class, participated, done the reading, worked hard on the papers, I will give you the benefit of the doubt if your average for the six grades comes in either above or below a specific grade. A teacher can tell when an essay or short talks is done with care, is something really thought about, something for which a genuine self-educational effort was made. I respect serious hard work and reward it when I see it. I will reward someone whose writing improves. In my courses, process and product count.

The Problem of Plagiarism:

DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Plagiarism is defined by the GMU English Department as follows:

'"Plagiarism means using words, opinions, or factual information from another person without giving that person credit. Writers give credit through accepted documentation styles, such as parenthetical citation, footnotes, or end notes; a simple listing of books and articles consulted is not sufficient."

If I discover you have plagiarised, I will follow the guidelines of the English department which require that I fail or report you to the Chair of my Department. I am serious about this.

How to contact me outside class:

Without an appointment:

Write to me by e-mail. My strongly preferred address is Please do not write to me at I rarely look at that address and cannot take attachments through it. You can write me 24 hours a day at; I look at my mail at least twice a day, and I write back. Be sure to type the e-mail address to which you wish me to send my reply at the end of your message. Please feel free to write me. I will provide thorough commentary on any drafts of essays that you send me through my e-mail addresses.

You can call the phone in the office I use (703-993-1171) or leave a message in my box in the English Office, which is in Robinson Hall on the fourth floor. My office is Robinson A455. I have no voice mail, and there is no way you can fax me. Remember that I am scheduled to be on campus only on Tuesdays and Thursdays; the secretaries will not call me and simply put notes in my box. Also, leaving essays in my box is a chancy business because materials get lost this way: no-one stands guard over the boxes. If you send an essay through an attachment, it doesn't always come through. The surest speediest way to get a late essay to me is still to bring it to the next class and give it to me warm hand to warm hand.

With an appointment:

Private conferences are available by appointment on Tuesday, 12:30 - 1:20 pm, and Thursday, 12:30 - 1:20 pm and 4:15 - 5:15 pm, Robinson A455. Sign up on the stenography pad which will be placed on the corner of my desk every time the class meets.

Other Help Outside Class

The College of Arts and Sciences runs a University Writing Center where you will find tutors to help you with writing. Their phone number is 703-993-1200. Here is a description of the place and its services:

"The George Mason University Writing Center is a writing resource open to the entire university community, offering free tutoring in a comfortable, supportive atmosphere. During face-to-face and online sessions, trained graduate and undergraduate tutors form a variety of disciplines assist writers at all stage of the writing process. Tutors emphasize positive attitudes and stratgies that help writers at any level learn to evaluate and revise their work in order to be more confident and effective writers."

To find out more and to start to use the services offered, go to


Tues/Thurs, Aug 30th/Sept 1st

In Class: Course introduction: explanation of syllabus. Short Talks and Essay #1 explained. The class watches Ralph Leighton's The Last Journey of a Genius.

Outside Class:

For second session of the week, go to my homepage (see above for URL), hit "Teaching", then print out, read and bring to class "The Great American Scream Machine" and "The Golden Gate Bridge"; "The Moving Scala", and From Dictaphone to Disc, plus a typed-out transcript of the short talk one student gave on "Richard Feynman's Definition of a Good Experiment". For second session also read Trimble, Writing with Style, Chs 1-2 and 8.

For next week, read Trimble, Writing with Style, Chs 3-7; also Richard Feynman, Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman! , Part One (pp 1-97), and What Do YOU Care What Other People Think?, pp 1-59 (Preface through "It's As Simple as One, Two Three"). Be prepared to be assigned one talk for the term from one of the five books (see Short Talk schedules for choices and dates); bring Sacks's Best Science Writing 2003 with you as well as 2 Feynmans and Trimble.

Tues/Thurs, Sept 6th/8th

In Class: Short Talks Given Out. We'll discuss Trimble: What is a Thesis; Line of Argument; Openers; Middles; Closers. How to Write and Fill a Paragraph; What is a Paragraph; How to Link Them. In-Class Describing a Machine. We'll discuss what is science writing. I'll introduce Mr Feynman.

Outside Class: Read for next week Richard Feynman, Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman! , Parts Two and Three (pp 98-163) and from Part Four (pp. 165-74, "The Dignified Professor", 199-219, "O Americano, Outra Vez!" and 232-36,"An Offer You Must Refuse"), What Do YOU Care What Other People Think?, the rest of Part One (pp. 63-113). Plan for #1 is due on Tues, Sept 13th.

Tues/Thurs, Sept 13th/15th

In Class: PLAN FOR #1 DUE for Tuesday session.

Tues, 9/13: Short Talk 1: RFeynman, boy and young man: The Qualities that Make up the Good Scientist (SYJ, Parts 1 & 2, WDYC, Chapter 1); Short talk 2: RFeynman's criticisms of abuses of authority particularly at Los Alamos (i.e., his stories about counterproductive uses of secrecy), but you may include stories exemplifying this theme from elsewhere in the book thus far (so from SYJ, Parts 2 & 3, especially "Los Alamos from Below" and "Safecracker Meets Safecracker").

Thurs, 9/15: Short Talk 3: RFeynman's ideas on what is real scientific learning: what ought to go on in a classroom, be in a book &c (e.g.,"O Americano Outre Vez" and "Judging Books by Their Covers" in SYJ and relevant Letters in WDYC); Short Talk 4: RFeynman's Adventures in Areas Outside Physics: Biology, Psychology, Art, Music and Anthropology ("A Map of the Cat", Always Trying to Escape", "But Is It Art?"; "O Americano Outra Vez!," "Bringing Culture to the Physicists", "Found Out in Paris", "Altered States" in SYJ, and "It's as Simple as One, Two, Three " and relevant "Letters" in WDYC).

Outside class: Read for next week: Sacks's "Introduction" to Best Science Writing 2003, Brendon I. Koerner's "Disorders Made to Order" (pp. 194-203), Joseph D'Agnese's "An Embarrassment of Chimpanzees", Leonard Cassuto's "Big Trouble in the World of 'Big Physics" (pp. 228-37) and Richard C. Lewontin and Richard Levins's "Stephen Jay Gould: What Does It Mean to be a Radical?" (pp. 237-249). Read the rest of Trimble (Chs 9-13). You should be working on Essay #1. Essay #1 is due Thurs, Sept 29th.

Tues/Thurs, Sept 20th/22nd

In Class:

Tues, 9/20: Short Talk 5: Exploitation and Casualties in Science (From Best Science Writing Brendon I. Koerner's "Disorders Made to Order," pp. 194-203, Joseph D'Agnese's "An Embarrassment of Chimpanzees", pp. 204-212). Bibliography and style sessions this and next time.

Thurs, 9/22: Short Talk 6: Phony Science and Science with Integrity (from Best Science Writing Leonard Cassuto's "Big Trouble in the World of 'Big Physics," pp. 228-37, and Richard C. Lewontin and Richard Levins's "Stephen Jay Gould: What Does It Mean to be a Radical?," pp. 237-249).

Outside Class: Read for next week, Feynman, SYJ, Part Five (pp. 237-346); WDYC, Part Two (pp. 113-254). Essay #1 is due Thursday. Read the rest of Trimble (Chs 9-13).

Tues/Thurs, Sept 27th/29th

In Class: ESSAY #1 is DUE for Thursday session.

Tues, 9/27: Short Talk 7: Mr Feynman Goes to Washington: Why some NASA officials are driven to delude themselves and mislead the public ("Mr Feynman Goes to Washington" and "Appendix F" in WDYC); Short Talk 8: A World of Pseudo- and Corrupt Science and the Value of Science (Feynman's "Cargo Cult Learning" and "The Value of Science."

Thurs, 9/29: I will hand out the take-home test on Trimble. The class watches Peter Jones and David R. Axelrod's Lost at Sea: The Search for Longitude.

Outside Class: For Tues, 10/4 print out, read and bring to class student models for the book review, one on Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle and Mark Ridley's Darwin Reader and the other on the two Feynman books, and the on-line popular book review by Michael Swaine, and the student models for Essay #2, "Some Observations on the Orangutans," "The White-Tailed Deer", "The California Sea- Lion.", and "Deserts, Wind, and Water". Read also from Best Science Writing: Jennifer Kahn's "Notes from a Parallel Universe" (pp. 115-22) On Thurs, 10/6 we'll have our midterm.

Tues/Thurs, Oct 4th/6th

In Class:

Tues, 10/4: Discussion of Lost at Sea: Cranks or Scientific Geniuses? How to write a book review; we will go over and I'll assign Essay #2 from the models. A brief review of Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection.

Thurs, 10/6: In class midterm. A Book Review of Feynman's Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman! and What Do YOU Care What Other People Think?

Outside Class: Read for Thurs, Olson's Mapping Human History, "Introduction," "The Human Pageant," pp. 1-7, "The End of Evolution" and "Individuals and Groups," pp. 11-53; also Wallace's Digging the Dirt, "The Poetics of Depth", Chapter 1, pp. 1-26. Prepare plan for project you want to do for Essay #2. Plan is due Tues, 10/18.

Thurs/Tues, Oct 13th/18th

In Class:

Thurs, 10/13: Short Talk 9: Olson: "The End of Evolution" and "Individuals and Groups" (pp. 11-53). Introduction to Olson's Mapping Human History and Wallace's Digging the Dirt: How study of the genetic composition of people today (DNA in genes, mitochondrial DNA, nucleotide sequences, blood types, haplotypes, haplogroups) demonstrates the origin of homo sapiens in Northeastern Africa; the unity of humankind, and, together with the affinity of languages, enables us to study the migrations of peoples over the earth, and the interaction of their mutations and adaptations to local climates and geological/geographical change. How the imagination is central to scientific endeavour; looking at sites in detail, and bringing out what's uncomfortable;

Outside Class: Get started on or do your project for Essay #2. For next week read Wallace, Chapters 2-3 ("Romancing Stones" and "Unearthing Bodies," pp. 27-78); read Olson, Mapping Human History Parts 1-2, and into 3, Chs 2-7 ("The End of Evolution" through "The Great Migration," pp. 11-135); from Sacks, Best American Science Writing, Peter Canby, "The Forest Primeval" (pp. 1-26) and Michelle Nijhuis, "Shadow Creatures" (pp. 123-31). Essay #2 is due Tues, Oct 25th.

In Class: PLAN for #2 Due Tuesday Session

Tues, 10/18: Short Talk 10: Olson: "The African Diaspora" and "Encounters with the Other" (pp. 53-89); Short Talk 11: Olson: "Agriculture, Civilization and the Emergence of Ethnicity" and "The Great Migration" (pp. 90-105, 124-36).

Thurs/Tues Oct 20th/25th

In Class:

Thurs, 10/20: Short Talk 12: Imagination and Ethics in Archealogy: Wallace's "Romancing Stones" and "Unearthing Bodies" (pp. 27-77); Short Talk 13: "Creatures and Their Earth" from Best Science Writing: Peter Canby, "The Forest Primeval" (pp. 1-26) and Michelle Nijhuis, "Shadow Creatures" (pp. 123-31).

Outside Class: For next week read from Best Science Writing, Trevor Corson, "Stalking the American Lobster," pp. 138-159 and Lawrence Osborne's "Got Silk," pp. 186-93; Olson, MHH, from Pts 3, 4, 5 and 6, "Sprung from a Common Source," "Who are the Europeans," "The Settlement of the Americas" and "The Burden of Knowledge," pp. 158-74, 193-220.

In Class:

Tues, 10/25: Short Talk 14: Nature and Capitalism from Best Science Writing: Trevor Corson, "Stalking the American Lobster," pp. 138-159; and Lawrence Osborne's "Got Silk," pp. 186-93). The class watches In Search of the First Language

Thurs/Tues, Oct 27th/Nov 1st

In Class:

Thurs 10/27: Short Talk 15: The Unity and History of Languages: On the film, In Search of a First Language and Olson, "Sprung from a Common Source" (pp. 137-54); Short talk 16: Who are the Europeans" and "The Settlement of the Americas" (pp. 158-74, 194- 207).
Outside class: For Tuesday, Wallace, Chs 4-5 ("Fulfilling Desires" and "Fundamentalism," pp. 79-128); from Best Science Writing, Charles Mann's "1491" (pp. 26-48); from Sacks's Best Science Writing, Atul Gawande, "The Learning Curve," pp. 49-67 and Liza Mundy's "A World of Their Own, pp. 68-87. For Thursday, print out, and bring to class and models for Essay #3: "Improving Life with Arthritis"; "The Real Afteraffects of Abortion"; "Ritalin and ADHD"; "Dental Implants", "Cesarean Childbirth: A Modern Convenience?"; and "Unraveling the Mystery"; also Instructions for writing an abstract. Essay #2 is due on Thurs, 11/10.

In Class:

Tues, 11/1: Short talk 17: Pompeii and Troy: Wallace's "Fulfilling Desires" and "Fundamentalism" (pp. 79-128); Short Talk 18: The Politics of Knowledge: Olson's "The Burden of Knowledge" and (from Best Science Writing), Mann's 1491."

Thurs/Tues, Nov 3rd/8th

In Class:

Thurs, 11/3: Short talk 19: Ethical Difficulties in Medical Science: from Best Science Writing, Gawande's "The Learning Curve" and Mundy's "A World of Their Own" (pp. 68-87). We will go over student models for research essay.

Outside Class: read Wallace's Chs 6 and 8 ("Rock Bottom" and "Trashing our future", pp. 129-50, 179-204;) Olson, MHH, "The End of Race" (pp. 224-238). Finish Essay #2.

In Class:

Tues, 11/8: Short Talk 20: Archeaology and Knowledge: Wallace's "Rock Bottom" and "Trashing Our Future" (pp. 129-50, 179-204). We will discuss how to write an abstract and how to write an annotated bibliography.

Thurs/Tues, Nov 10th/15th

In Class: ESSAY #2 IS DUE for the Thursday session.

Thurs, 11/10: The class watches as much of Wit as time allows.

Outside Class: For Tues, 11/15, For Thursday print out and do Practice 1 for the Abstract and bring to class. Read, Ofri, Singular Intimacies, the following selection of chapters: "Possessing Her Words," "AA Battery," "Change of Heart," "The Professor of Denial," "The Burden of Knowledge," "In Charge," "Immunity," pp. 17-32, 53-70, 89-129, 139-60.

Tues, 11/15: The class finishes watching Wit. Introducing Ofri's journey and the topic of medicine as a subculture in our society. We go over Practice I. .

Thurs/Tues, Nov 17th/22nd

In Class:

Thurs, 11/17: Short talk 21: Ethnicity, Class and Status in medicine: from Ofri, "Possessing Her Words", "AA Battery," "Change of Heart" (pp. 1-4, 17-32, 53-70); Short talk 22: When Knowledge Doesn't Help: from Ofri, "The Professor of Denial," "The Burden of Knowledge," "Immunity", pp. 89-112, 138-60.

Outside Class: Read Edson's stageplay, Wit, Ofri's Singular Intimacies, "July 1st," "In Charge," "Merced," pp. 71-88, 113-29, 222-36. Plan for Essay #3 is due Tues, 11/29.

In Class:

Tues, 11/22: Short talk 23: The Abuse of Vivian Bearing: from the film and screenplay. How to write a film review. Review of Last Journey, Lost at Sea, and In Search of the First Language.

Outside Class: Print out and do Practice II for Abstracts. Do Plan for #3. Read from Best Science Writing, Ronald Hoffman's "Why Buy That Theory," Jennifer Kahn's "Notes from a Parallel Universe" and Ofri's "Common Ground" (pp. 222-27, 115-122, 213-21).

Tues/Thurs, Nov 29th/Dec 1st

In Class: PLAN or ESSAY #3 is due for Tuesday session.

Tues, 11/29: Short Talk 24: What is the Doctor's responsibility towards the patient and patient's towards the doctor?: from Best Science Writing, Ofri's "Common Ground," and from Singular Intimacies, "July 1st," "In Charge" (pp. 213- 21, 71-88, 113-29). Do Practice II in class.

Thurs, 12/1: Short Talk 25: Theories Matter: Ofri's Singular Intimacies, "Merced," Ch 15 (pp. 222-236) and Ronald Hoffman's "Why Buy That Theory" (Best Science Writing, pp. 222-227).

Outside class: Read Ofri's Singular Intimacies, Chs 13-14, "M&M" and "Intensive Care," (pp. 188-221); read from Sacks, Best Science Writing, Michael Klesius, "The Big Bloom," Susan Milius, "Why Turn Red?", Thomas Eisner, "The Mosquito's Buzz", (pp. 168-75, 176-81, 182-84).

Tues/Thurs, Dec 6th/8th

In Class:

Tues, 12/6: Short talk 26: When Doctors Make Mistakes: Ofri's Singular Intimacies, "M&M" and "Intensive Care" (pp. 188-221). Short Talk 27: Nature's Beauty and Strangeness: (from Best Science Writing. Michael Klesius, "The Big Bloom," pp. 168-75, Susan Milius, "Why Turn Red?", pp. 176-81, Thomas Eisner, "The Mosquito's Buzz", pp. 182-84). Each member of the class reports his or her progress on Essay #3.

Thurs, 12/5: Continuation of Progress reports. Review for final. Questions for Sacks's volume will be handed out; answers to be typed and brought in the day of the final.

Outside Class: Finish Essay #3. Prepare to write in-class 2 book reviews, one comparative of Mapping Human History and Digging the Dirt, one of Ofri's Singular Intimacies and a film review of one of the four films we've seen.

The Final: Thurs/Tues, Dec 13th/15th

Section 302.N09: The day, time and place of the final: Tues, Dec 13th, 1:30 am - 4:15 pm, Robinson A245.

Section 302.N08: The day, time and place of the final: Thurs, Dec 15th, 1:30 am to41:15 pm, Robinson A109.

Bring with you printed out Research Essay #3 (it should have an abstract and annotated bibliography). In class writing of two book reviews, a comparison of Steve Olson's Mapping Human History and Jennifer Wallace's Digging the Dirt, one of Danielle Orfi's s Singular Intimacies; 10 questions on Sacks's Best Science Writing (based on the essays we read since the midter), plus one film review from a choice of the films we have seen in class.

Contact Ellen Moody.
Pagemaster: Jim Moody.
Page Last Updated 25 August 2005