English 164 - Spring, 2016

Writing Science

Class Information

Instructor: Milburn, Colin
CRN: 42609
Time: TR 1:40-3:00
Location: 1130 Bainer


    “Writing Science” explores the role of texts and writing practices in the production of scientific knowledge. Using interdisciplinary methods from both science studies and literary studies, we will learn how language functions in the profession of science and why writing matters for scientific authors. The course will focus on the rhetoric of science and the literary structures of scientific arguments. We will trace the development of “literary technologies” across diverse fields of scientific research and communication, from the Scientific Revolution to the present day.

    In the first half of the course, topics will include: scientific authorship; metaphors in scientific writing; pop-science versus elite science; graphics and paper tools in the experimental laboratory; mass media and cultural narratives of science.

    In the second half of the course, we will focus on the intersections between science and science fiction. Specific cases illustrating the mutual influence between scientific research and literary texts will be examined in detail.


    Class attendance and participation (10%); 2 essays (25% each); midterm (15%); final exam (25%)


    Waldo, Robert Heinlein
    The Double Helix, James Watson
    Science in Action, Bruno Latour
    Online Course Reader
    Shockwave Rider, John Brunner
    Brain Plague, Joan Slonczewski
    Daedalus, or Science and the Future, J. B. S. Haldane
    Solution Three, Naomi Mitchison
    New Atlantis, Francis Bacon