Tuesday, April 5, 2011

October 1976: Science and English--the Two Cultures

Question: What do science and literature have in common? How do their practitioners differ?

Note: Periodically, interest is expressed in interdisciplinary studies. The following article by Neil Ellman appeared in the English Journal, October 1976. Dr. Ellman lists some interesting projects that compare and contrast science and literature and their practitioners. RayS.

.Have students interview scientists and literary experts, including high school teachers.

.Compare a literary and a scientific journal.

.Have students paraphrase or re-word poetry, literary prose and scientific exposition.

.Examine the literary portrayal of scientists.

.Have students read science fiction to determine how a literary mind uses scientific fact and speculation to achieve a literary purpose.

.Ask students to research and report on the various ways that science has been used to help us understand literature.

.Explore the parallels between detectives and scientists in detective novels.

.Help students see that scientists and literary scholars are also adventurers.

.Students can read biographies to explore the gap between the two cultures.

.Students can study the changing nature of scientific discovery and literary creation and criticism.

.Have students write their own poems based on carefully researched aspects of science and technology—nuclear fission, osmosis, cybernetics, electron flow, photosynthesis, continental drift, evolution, hibernation, sun spots, etc. .

Comment: Since the Internet is available  in 2011 with its rich accumulation of information, some of these projects could be carried out in independent study or in small groups. Do not forget interviews and traditional library materials, books, magazines, journals and specialized databases. Requirements for the projects should include presentations of the studies’ results. The projects should help students understand the nature of “The Two Cultures,” as discussed by CP Snow. RayS.

Title: “The Two Cultures: Exploring and Bridging the Gap.” Neil Ellman. English Journal (October 1976), 55-56.

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