Course Name: Fact and Fantasy: The Interaction of Science and Cinema
Instructor: Paul Duffin
Is Jurassic Park possible? Could we really conduct a Mission to Mars? What is the science behind Minority Report, Deep Impact, Contact, and other movies? How do filmmakers choose to portray science? Why do scientists serve as consultants for movies? This course will explore and examine how science and scientists are depicted in movies and the ways that science informs and shapes movies. Additionally, we will consider how scientific reality is conveyed in movies, and whether movies affect science policy, technology, and public discourse of science.
The primary text (Lab Coats in Hollywood: Science, Scientists, and Cinema) is an academic work that will provide the foundation of how scientists consult with filmmakers to create and depict science in movies. We will examine a variety of films, essays, and articles to analyze the interaction between science and movies. You do not have to be a science major to take this class, just a person who is interested in understanding the interactions between science and movies as well as exploring how these interactions shape our society.
Some potential research topics include: How do movies affect popular perceptions of science? Is science valued in movies? Are movies driven by scientific discoveries? Is realism necessary for a successful movie? If so, how is this achieved in an entertaining way? How do audience expectations dictate/affect movies? How do movies affect the public view of science and scientists? How do movies depict the future?
Some potential topics for your research include: