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IDSEMUG 1845 - Intrepid Science: Heroism in the Production of Knowledge

This seminar examines the role of heroic character and ideologies of heroism in the production of modern scientific knowledge. Opening with an examination of John Muir as a stereotypical heroic knower of nature—one who goes into the “wilderness,” endures suffering, becomes changed, and then carries home enlightenment—the course pursues the limits of this articulation of the hero in the history of knowing and speaking for the natural world. It probes the epistemic consequences of seeing heroism as a scientific virtue. Students are invited to ask: How do hero stories shape how we think about science and nature? Can heroes be non-male? Subaltern? Non-colonial? Non-human? What roles has heroism played in the history of science? The course borrows analytic tools from literary theory and the history of science. Students will engage with various forms of visual and material cultural including images, films, data sets, and museum displays. Class Notes: Course meets during the first seven weeks only, First class: Thursday, January 31; Last Class: Thursday, March 14.
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