Science and Literature
General Catalog Course Title:
English Composition in Connection with the Reading of World Literature
Terms Offered:
Fall 2012
Course Thread: 
Sciences and Society
Hock, Jessie

In The Republic, Plato condemps poetry for being too far removed from reality. A feeble imitation of the world (itself an imitation of ideal Ideas), poetry isn’t “true,” distorting human understanding of the world influence on young people to behave badly. In the Poetics, Aristotle argues that didactic, or scientific, verse isn’t really poetry. From the Greeks onwards, we have tended to distinguish poetry and science as different modes of thought with different relationships to truth or the real, and different functions in society. This course will take a long view of this troubled history and read classic scientific writings, poetry, and poetic theory to question the traditional generic boundaries between scientific and literary texts and practices. From the farming manual that is Virgil’s Georgics to contemporary scholarship that uses neurological advances to analyze literature to science fiction from all periods, we will question the boundaries between science and literature and the practice of each.

For more detailed information about classes, please visit the UC Berkeley Online Schedule of Classes.