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Course Details

Fall 2017-2018
HIS 498 (HA)   No Pass/D/Fail

History of Pseudoscience

Michael D. Gordin

The history of the border between what counts as science and what does not tracks the complex tensions in different times and places among science, religion, politics, and culture. This course explores the boundaries science has staked for itself -- or has had staked out for it -- by focusing on the elusive category of "pseudoscience." What have people considered the character of natural knowledge, and how to attain it? What is at stake in appearing scientific? Why exclude certain things from this designation? Each week this course moves backward in time to highlight the diversity of phenomena at the margins of science.

Sample reading list:
Robert Pennock and Michael Ruse, But Is It Science?
Lawrence Principe, The Secrets of Alchemy
Sigmund Freud, Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis
Henry Bauer, The Enigma of Loch Ness
J. B. Rhine, Extra-Sensory Perception
Robert Darnton, Mesmerism and the End of the Enlightenment in France

Reading/Writing assignments:
Students can expect an average of 150-175 pages of reading a week, drawn from both primary and secondary sources. There will be a midterm paper (8-10 pages) and final paper (15-20 pages), as well as five weekly writing assignments (which will make of 10% of the final grade) of 500 words apiece.

Requirements/Grading:
Paper in Lieu of Mid Term - 30%
Paper in lieu of Final - 40%
Class/Precept Participation - 20%
Other (See Instructor) - 10%

Other Requirements:
Not Open to Freshmen.

Reserved Seats:
Sophomores Only 3
Juniors Only 3
Seniors Only 3

Schedule/Classroom assignment:

Class numberSectionTimeDaysRoomEnrollmentStatus
20827 S01 1:30 pm - 4:20 pm Th   Scheide Caldwell House   209   Enrolled:14 Limit:12 Closed