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Viewing: ENG 341 : Literature and Science

Last approved: Sat, 29 Apr 2017 08:02:38 GMT

Last edit: Sat, 29 Apr 2017 08:02:38 GMT

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ENG (English)
Dual-Level Course
Cross-listed Course
Literature and Science
Literature and Science
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
English (16ENG)
Term Offering
Fall and Spring
Offered Alternate Years
Fall 2017
Previously taught as Special Topics?
Course Delivery
Face-to-Face (On Campus)

Grading Method
Graded with S/U option
Contact Hours
(Per Week)
Component TypeContact Hours
Course Attribute(s)
GEP (Gen Ed)

If your course includes any of the following competencies, check all that apply.
University Competencies

Course Is Repeatable for Credit
Paul Fyfe
Associate Professor

Open when course_delivery = campus OR course_delivery = blended OR course_delivery = flip
Enrollment ComponentPer SemesterPer SectionMultiple Sections?Comments
Open when course_delivery = distance OR course_delivery = online OR course_delivery = remote
Requisite: Sophomore Standing or Above
Is the course required or an elective for a Curriculum?
SIS Program CodeProgram TitleRequired or Elective?
16ENGBA-16LLTEnglish BA- LiteratureElective
16ENGLBAEnglish BAElective
16ENGLBA-16ENGLCRWEnglish BA-Creative WritingElective
16ENGLBA-16ENGLFLMEnglish BA-FilmElective
16ENGLBA-16ENGLLWREnglish BA-Language, Writing, RhetoricElective
16ENGLBA-16ENGLTEDEnglish BA- Teacher Education Elective
16ENGLBA-16ENGLMEnglish BA- MinorElective
This course tracks the imaginative potentials, social repercussions, and interdisciplinary mixing of literature and science since the emergence of empiricism in the sixteenth century. Well before literature and science divided into "two cultures." they supplied a fruitful crossover for ideas about how and why the world works and how we gain new knowledge. Even with the development of modern disciplines, literature plays an important role in cultural assessments of scientific discovery and education. Students will read a selection of works from literary as well as scientific writers, analyzing texts and historical contexts and producing written arguments within an interdisciplinary framework.

This course is part of the new concentration in literature within the English major. It is designed to introduce students to the many historical interactions of literature and science, including content from traditionally literary authors as well as the writings of natural philosophers and scientists. This course assists students in analyzing the cultural relations of literature across different historical periods while, at the same time, critically approaching texts from the history of science for their expressive, rhetorical, and imaginative dimensions. While C.P. Snow famously identified the separation of humanities and sciences into “two cultures,” this course shows students the cross-disciplinary and even pre-disciplinary conversations which enlivened the history of ideas, the pursuit of knowledge, and the legacy of cultural expression.

This course also aims to fulfill the interdisciplinary perspectives (IP) requirement of the general education program (GEP). It invites students within as well as beyond the major to participate in its shared inquiry into the historical modes of expressive engagement with scientific ideas. It also introduces students to that history of ideas, exploring topics in “natural philosophy” which later evolved into recognizable fields including biology, chemistry, geology, astronomy, and physics. Throughout the course, ENG 341 points to the developing domains and methods of these fields and to the ways literature responded and diverged. Ultimately, ENG 341 provides an interdisciplinary history of science, insights into famous scientific texts, and comparisons to literary culture evolving alongside.


Is this a GEP Course?
GEP Categories
Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Humanities Open when gep_category = HUM
Each course in the Humanities category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:






Mathematical Sciences Open when gep_category = MATH
Each course in the Mathematial Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:




Natural Sciences Open when gep_category = NATSCI
Each course in the Natural Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:




Social Sciences Open when gep_category = SOCSCI
Each course in the Social Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:






Interdisciplinary Perspectives Open when gep_category = INTERDISC
Each course in the Interdisciplinary Perspectives category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:
Identify the emergence of the disciplines from a historically shared intellectual culture to the humanistic and scientific fields we recognize today.
Essay Questions
Sample measure: How does H. G. Wells's The Island of Doctor Moreau provide insights and/or raise questions about how literature and science evolved? What aspects mentioned in the book serve as the roots of what we still recognize today in either the fields of history, literature, or science?
Identify, evaluate, analyze, and describe the shared as well as distinctive approaches to ideas taken by literary and scientific writers.
Written Assessments
Sample measure: The “Philosophical Transactions” assignment requires students to design and write an imaginary submission to the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society circa the 17-19th centuries, adopting a historical voice to describe a contemporary phenomenon. This creative element is followed by a critical reflection on what they chose to analyze, how they delimited their scientific inquiry, what stylistic decisions shaped that inquiry, and how scientific discourse has changed today.
Research and evaluate texts which synthesize literary and scientific methods and will articulate the meanings and significance of those texts.
Essay Questions
Sample measure: Select a text from the class as well as a specific scientific field and then analyze the text for its relation to your chosen discipline to answer this question: Where do the lines blur between literature and science? The best answers will emphasize originality of ideas, integrity of research, and clarity of communication.
ENG 341 takes a historical perspective on literature and science, including periods before discrete scientific disciplines were identified, or even before the term "science" was accepted as such. Thus, ENG 341 connects to scientific fields at a necessary level of generality, tracking the emerge of disciplines which would become the physical and natural sciences including chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology, and natural history / biology.
The instructor is a literary historian with extensive interests in literature's interdisciplinary engagements, stemming from his own experience as a pre-med undergraduate and an English major, and followed through research interests into nineteenth-century literature in its cultural contexts. ENG 341 will present primary historical sources from scientific writers as well as more traditionally literary texts together, letting students realize connections while the instructor provides additional context necessary to understand the emergence and development of scientific ideas and literary culture. Classroom exercises and discussions will be structured to help students develop and implement skills in analysis of scientific and literary texts, including analysis of writing, interpretation, critical thinking, and contextual argument. Students will use historical approaches to the development of the scientific method and discrete academic fields, discovering how they relate to the representational horizons of literature.
Visual & Performing Arts Open when gep_category = VPA
Each course in the Visual and Performing Arts category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:






Health and Exercise Studies Open when gep_category = HES
Each course in the Health and Exercise Studies category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:








Global Knowledge Open when gep_category = GLOBAL
Each course in the Global Knowledge category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to achieve objective #1 plus at least one of objectives 2, 3, and 4:


Please complete at least 1 of the following student objectives.






US Diversity Open when gep_category = USDIV
Each course in the US Diversity category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to achieve at least 2 of the following objectives:
Please complete at least 2 of the following student objectives.








Requisites and Scheduling
a. If seats are restricted, describe the restrictions being applied.
Sophomore Standing.
b. Is this restriction listed in the course catalog description for the course?
List all course pre-requisites, co-requisites, and restrictive statements (ex: Jr standing; Chemistry majors only). If none, state none.
Sophomore Standing.
List any discipline specific background or skills that a student is expected to have prior to taking this course. If none, state none. (ex: ability to analyze historical text; prepare a lesson plan)
Additional Information
Complete the following 3 questions or attach a syllabus that includes this information. If a 400-level or dual level course, a syllabus is required.
Title and author of any required text or publications.
See syllabus
Major topics to be covered and required readings including laboratory and studio topics.
See syllabus
List any required field trips, out of class activities, and/or guest speakers.
No new resources will be required or requested for this course. Dr. Paul Fyfe is an associate professor who developed the course as part of his standard load rotation.

During the semester, students will:

  1. Read primary and secondary texts to understand the evolving relationship between literature and science across multiple historical periods

  2. Distinguish among rhetorical and expressive techniques for how literature elucidates or critiques scientific ideas

  3. Propose, critique, and produce written arguments about the emergence of and relations among disciplines

Student Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Identify techniques of literary expression and engagement in scientific domains

  2. Explain literature in its changing historical relations to scientific culture

  3. Analyze texts and contexts for the purposes of critical argument

  4. Evaluate peer writing and critical literature and formalize reasoned responses

Evaluation MethodWeighting/Points for EachDetails
Quizzes10This course includes significant reading so expect intermittent pop quizzes at the beginning of some class periods. Quizzes, though sometimes annoying, are necessary to keep us up-to-date with assignments. They shouldn't be terribly hard and will serve to evaluate your progress with and comprehension of the reading. At the end of the semester, each student's lowest quiz grade will be dropped.
Participation10Our class will be conducted through discussion which will thrive on the participation of students. Participation means thoughtfully preparing any reading materials, exploring study objects, and communicating with the seminar. It includes but is not limited to speaking up in class. While this is strongly encouraged, our course will provide multiple ways of participating in the topic and materials.
Other10We will write during and/or after each class in a hard-copy course journal. You will make entries based on different assignments and submit the journals biweekly for evaluation.
Short Paper10Submitted biweekly, these reflections collect your thoughts from your journal into a one-page paper about the connections and emerging themes of the course. Reflections should include cited evidence from the texts we’ve read.
Short Paper20The first assignment combines creative and critical thinking. You imagine yourself as a historical “natural philosopher” writing an observation for publication in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society—the still-running journal of the collection of scientists and respected amateurs which formed in the 17th century. You will report on a contemporary scientific or natural phenomenon which interests you, but following the style of inquiry and reporting which characterized early submissions to the journal. (Several of which we will read in advance.) In the accompanying critical portion of the assignment, you will resume your own voice to explain what you chose to analyze, how you delimited your scientific inquiry, what stylistic decisions and literary conditions shaped that inquiry, and how scientific discourse has changed today.
Major Paper30The final paper is your chance to go deeper into any of the texts on our syllabus which intrigued you. At the same time, it lets you go deeper into any of the scientific contexts we’ve considered which holds an interest. You will write a research paper exploring the connections between your literary text and scientific context in depth. This will include at least three outside sources with citations. The final paper should be 7-9 double-spaced pages in length, articulate your own hypothesis, include concrete evidence from text and context, and be effectively structured as an argument.
presentation10In the final presentation, you will present a five-minute version of your final paper to the class. The presentation format will be very different, using a special style called “Pecha Kucha”—a highly visual style that will aid you in making effective presentations in the future. Presentations will be assessed on clarity and narrative integrity.
TopicTime Devoted to Each TopicActivity
Introduction1 weekReadings
• C.P. Snow, “The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution” (1959)
• “NC State Named as Top STEM University by US News and World Report.” Triangle Business Journal (2013)
Methods of Inquiry4 weeksReadings
• Thomas Sprat, History of the Royal Society (selections)
• John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (selections)
• Robert Boyle, selections from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society
• Robert Hooke, Micrographia (selections)
• Margaret Cavendish, Observations on Experimental Philosophy; Grounds of Natural Philosophy (selections)

• Course journal and summary reflections
• Proposal for Short Paper #1
Sensation and Skepticism3 weeksReadings
• Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (selections)
• Erasmus Darwin, The Loves of the Plants
• Anna Laetitia Barbauld, “To Dr. Priestley,” “To Mr. S. T. Coleridge”
• Gilbert White, The Natural History of Selbourne (excerpts)
• William Wordsworth, Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1802), “Nutting,” “Expostulation and Reply,” “The Tables Turned”
• Percy Shelley, “Defence of Poetry,” “Mutability,” “Mont Blanc”
• Charles Dickens, “Full Report of the First Meeting of the Mudfog Association for the Advancement of Everything”

• Short Paper due
• Course journals
• Summary reflections
Natural Histories and Theologies3 weeksReadings
• William Paley, Natural Theology (selections)
• Alfred Tennyson, In Memoriam (selections), The Princess (selections)
• William Buckland, Bridgewater Treatise VI: Geology and Mineralogy (selections)
• Charles Darwin, Origin of Species (selections)
• H.G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau

• Course journals
• Summary reflections
• Proposal for final paper
• Peer workshop
Two Cultures?5 weeksReadings
• First issue of Nature (1869): Introduction; Goethe, “Aphorisms on Nature”
• Thomas Henry Huxley, “Science and Culture” (1880)
• Matthew Arnold, “Literature and Science” (1883, 85)
• Zola, The Experimental Novel (selections)
• Corelli, A Romance of Two Worlds
• Kipling, “An Astrologer’s Song”
• Hardy, “Hap,” “At a Lunar Eclipse”
• Woolf, The Waves

• Course journals
• Summary reflections
• Milestones for final paper research
• Final paper
• Final presentation
Instructor to attend CUE meeting
despain (Tue, 15 Nov 2016 20:01:27 GMT): Rollback: Update syllabus, tweak GEP, etc.
aeherget (Mon, 03 Apr 2017 19:10:57 GMT): AECHH: Updated restrictive statement at initiator's request via phone call 4/3/2017.
aeherget (Thu, 13 Apr 2017 16:46:21 GMT): AECHH: Updated syllabus upload at instructor's request via email 4/13/2017.
Key: 9498