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Alchemists and Mad Scientists: from Faust to Dr. Strangelove

Thursday, January 10, 2013 @ 7:00 pm - Thursday, January 31, 2013 @ 10:00 pm

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions

Curiosity is perhaps the defining characteristic of scientists in the popular mind, but a popular belief asserts that “curiosity killed the cat.” In the popular imagination scientists challenge the boundaries of human knowledge, frequently paying a dire price for their audacity, and sometimes bringing that price down on the population around them. In this activity we will consider how science and scientists have been depicted in popular culture, starting with one manifestation of the widely celebrated Faust legend. We will trace the development in mass media of the evolution of alchemists into mad scientists, using the films “Faust,” “Metropolis,” “The Bride of Frankenstein,” and “Dr. Strangelove” as our texts. Our goal will be a deeper understanding of the history of representations of science and scientists in Western narrative media.

Advance sign-up isn’t required, but please email Stephen Brophy (stephbr@mit.edu) if you plan to attend so he can give you access to the activity’s Stellar site.

Sponsor(s): Science, Technology, and Society, Comparative Media Studies
Contact: Stephen Brophy, stephbr@mit.edu

Faust

January 10
Thu
7:00PM-10:00PM
3-133

What do you do when you have it all and it isn’t enough? Faust was the most highly respected philosopher, theologian, and physician of his time, but because he wasn’t satisfied with all that he sold his soul to the Devil. And then what happened?

Stephen Brophy – Lecturer, Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies

Metropolis

January 17
Thu
7:00PM-10:00PM
3-133

Back in the good old days, when you built a city that had sunshine and sport for the 1%, but endless drudgery for the 99% who kept it going, you needed a mad scientist to run it all. And no scientist has ever been madder than Rotwang, the genius behind Metropolis!

Nicole Labruto – PhD Student in History, Anthropology, and STS (HASTS), Stephen Brophy – Lecturer, Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies

The Bride of Frankenstein

January 24
Thu
7:00PM-10:00PM
3-133

What happens when you build a creature with parts collected from graveyards and gallows, but neglect to provide him with a companion? He becomes monstrous in his loneliness. But maybe building a companion from the same materials isn’t the best solution?

Stephen Brophy – Lecturer, Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, Marie Burks – PhD Student in History, Anthropology, and STS (HASTS)

Dr. Strangelove

January 31
Thu
7:00PM-10:00PM
3-133

Mad scientists don’t only haunt medieval castles – they also ply their wares in the most up to date War Rooms. What happens when a modern mad scientist builds a Doomsday Machine for the Pentagon? See this movie to learn how to stop worrying and love the Bomb!

Stephen Brophy – Lecturer, Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, Benjamin Wilson – PhD Student in History, Anthropology, and STS (HASTS)

Details

Start:
Thursday, January 10, 2013 @ 7:00 pm
End:
Thursday, January 31, 2013 @ 10:00 pm
Event Category:

Venue

MIT Building 3, Room 133
33 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139 United States
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