Science and Literature

Scientific experimentation has a long, rich history. In this subject, we will pair literary and scientific texts to explore how experimentation relates to, and sheds light on, human experience. For example, how does Pynchon’s Crying of Lot 49 engage Maxwell’s thought experiments in thermodynamics? In what ways does Poe’s short story, “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” build on contemporaneous experiments with hypnosis? Through such comparisons, we will range across historical periods, examining both how scientific experimentation changes and how literature takes up the challenges posed by experimental methods.