Some say that technology inevitably gets “better” over time and always leads to positive social changes. Critique this statement using at least THREE of the class readings. The readings by Heath and Heath, Mirsky, Howard, Posner, and Baym will NOT count towards the three required readings. You can draw from them if you choose, but you must engage with at least three of the other readings and do so in a substantive way.
What constitutes the scientific persona? How is it that scientists often emerge larger than Life in their accomplishments, moving them beyond fame, or renown, and into a realm of Mystique or heroism? Why does this persona change (sometimes radically) depending upon the perspective or timeframe of the reviewer? As Lorraine Daston and Otto Sebum point out in their chapter on scientific personas, the distinctiveness of the character and the elasticity of portrayals of the historical individual tell us something about the perceptions of self and the varied ideals of science that circulate within a particular time period.
As Daston and Sebum define persona, it is not so much a mask, but rather an interface “between the society that must grant significance to a persona and the individuals who must embody it,” and they further suggest that the persona is a hybrid of individual and society: “Symbols, values, and meanings—the stuff of culture—are essential components of this interaction.”
Historians and biographers are also a part of this interface and one can usually discern particular perspectives from different authors. While authors may generally agree about the facts of the scientist’s life and work, they may differ greatly on the motivations, influences, and/or other driving forces in that scientist’s life. Analyzing these various perspectives are also helpful in displaying the construction of several or various scientific personas for a single individual. Moreover what constitutes ‘expertise’ in a field is sometimes controversial.
The final paper should be a thesis-driven 7-8 page double-spaced exploration of the science and persona of a significant figure in the history of science. Your essay should include the following components:
a) The science that made the figure famous or significant: this part of your essay
–at least a page—should provide evidence of your understanding of the key principles involved in the science and why this discovery or project was significant for either the scientific community and/or the broader social world.
b) The historical time period: your essay should include sufficient information to indicate why the questions your scientist addressed were significant or timely for that period. Depending on the figure you have chosen and your interest in the historical time period of that figure, the length of this section may vary.
c) The scientific persona. Your essay should be driven by a thesis you have arrived at based upon your assessment of readings from articles, biographies
Lorraine Daston and Otto Sebum “Introduction: Scientific Personas and Their Histories,
2 Ibid. See also: Tara Nummedahl “The Alchemist’s Personae,” Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007) 42.and/or autobiographies. These major sources may be supplemented, but not replaced, by websites, blogs, movies, interviews of your subject, or of your subject’s colleagues, friends, rivals or portrayals within popular culture. Among potential strategies, you may focus on they way in which the scientific persona was constructed through a variety of sources that essentially agree but differ in minor ways, or how the persona changed markedly over time, or based upon the historian’s or biographer’s perspective. Whatever your assessment, it is important that you provide a thesis that will argue for your viewpoint about the construction of this scientist’s persona.
d) Bibliography. Please provide a bibliography unless you choose the footnote format, which includes bibliographical information. A bibliography that provides formal citation (Chicago, MLA etc.) of at least 5 sources
The five sources: Either
Four peer-reviewed articles and one other source
Two book-length autobiography/biographies and one peer-reviewed article and one other source here is the abstract I have written along with some sources below, Please stick to it. Thank you 🙂
Benjamin Franklin: The Perfect Persona
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