Science, Technology & Society at Bar-Ilan University

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Between Anxiety and Enthusiasm: Science, Technology & Popular Culture (27816) | Dr. Noah Efron

Modern science is (for the most part) produced by experts using specialized tools and procedures to carry out arcane investigations, the results of which are expressed in rarefied terminology and published in journals decipherable by only a small number of initiates. Modern technology increasingly incorporates a level of complexity so great that most of its users are unable to understand how it was constructed and how it operates. For these reasons, science and technology are today less intelligible and less accessible to the general public than ever in the past. Yet never in the past have science and technology received so much attention in popular culture: books, movies, television, plays, video games, music, arts and more. In this seminar we will study how science and scientists, and technology and technologists, have been portrayed in these different media. Beginning with a survey of popular representations from the renaissance to today, we will consider the tradition of ambivalence that developed around science and technology, which have long been viewed with a mix of anxiety and enthusiasm. The lion’s share of the course will examine second order analyses of the popular representations of science and technology in different media. During the second semester, each student will present orally and in writing the results of an independent research project.