This page presents a table of required reading assignments for each class session, followed by a list of supplemental readings and materials.
Books for essay 4 are listed on a separate document. (PDF)
Readings are from the following text unless otherwise indicated:
Groopman, Jerome, and Tim Folger. The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2008. Boston, MA: Mariner Books, 2008. ISBN: 9780618834471.
Audience: grabbing the reader
Literary techniques: scenes, imagery, characters
Voice and tone
Science and life - the “non-quantifiable”
Lightman, Alan. “Smile.” In A Modern Day Yankee in a Connecticut Court: And Other Essays on Science. New York, NY: Viking, 1986, pp. 34-37 and 165-166. ISBN: 9780670812394.
Thomas, Lewis. “Crickets, Bats, Cats, and Chaos.” Audubon 94 (March/April 1992): 94. [ Republished in Occasions for Writing. Edited by R. DiYanni and P. C. Hoy II. New York, NY: Thompson Wadsworth, 2007. ISBN: 9781413012064.]
Doyle, Brian. “Joyas Voladoras.” The American Scholar (Autumn 2004). [ Republished in The Best American Essays 2005. Edited by Susan Orlean. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. ISBN: 9780618357130.]
Weed, William Speed. “106 Science Claims and a Truckful of Baloney.” Popular Science 264, no. 5 (2004): 106-115.
The writer as a “character” in his essay
Are we prisoners of the wired world?
Lightman, Alan. “Prisoner of the Wired World.” In A Sense of the Mysterious. New York, NY: Vintage, 2006, pp. 183-208. ISBN: 9781400078196.
Walter, Kirn. “The Autumn of the Multitaskers.” In The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2008.
“Lucidity, lucidity, lucidity”
Reason and emotion
Conselice, Christopher J. “The Universe’s Invisible Hand.” In The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2008.
Dyson, Freeman Dyson. “Our Biotech Future.” In The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2008.
Henig, Robin Marantz. “Our Silver-Coated Future.” In The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2008.
Framing ethical concerns
Asking the right questions
Featherstone, Steve. “The Coming Robot Army.” In The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2008.
Rosenbaum, Ron. “How To Trick an Online Scammer into Carving a Computer out of Wood.” In The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2008.
Share proposals for essay 3
Public health and individual patients
Involving the reader
Quammen, David. “Deadly Contact.” In The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2008.
Patterson, Kevin. “The Patient Predator.” In The Best American Science Writing 2004. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2004, pp. 189-200. ISBN: 9780060726409.
|11||Darwin’s dark legacy||Denby, David. “In Darwin’s Wake.” The New Yorker, July 21, 1997.|
Questions about essay 4, book review
Strategizing the longer research essay
|Book list for essay 4 (PDF)|
Keeping readers involved in longer essays
Pollan, Michael. “Our Decrepit Food Factories.” The New York Times Magazine, December 16, 2007.
———. “Farmer in Chief.” The New York Times Magazine, October 12, 2008.
Kolbert, Elizabeth. “Watermark.” The New Yorker, February 27, 2006.
Dawidoff, Nicholas. “Profile of Freeman Dyson.” The New York Times, March 25, 2009.
(A profile and discussion about Freeman Dyson’s contrarian position on global warming, among other issues.)
Pollan, Michael. “More from Michael Pollan.” The New York Times Magazine, January 28, 2007.
(An article that grew into Pollan’s book In Defense of Food.)
Angier, Natalie. “Seeing Red.” The New York Times, February 6, 2007.
(A short piece on the science of everyday life.)
Sacks, Oliver. “Oliver Sacks on Migraines.” The New York Times, July 7, 2009.
(A piece on the visual phenomena accompanying migraines.)
Swidey, Neil. “The End of Alone by Neil Swidey.” The Boston Globe, February 8, 2009.
(An article that discusses many of the same points as Alan Lightman’s essay but uses different arguments and evidence.)
Dizikes, Peter. “Civic Science.” Boston Globe, April 30, 2006.
(Contains a good discussion about scientific literacy.)
Moore, Solomon. “Story Idea: Forensic Science.” The New York Times, February 18, 2009.
(An article about the NAS study)
Pollack, Andrew. “Story Idea: Biotech crops.” The New York Times, February 19, 2009.
(A news item about the difficulties of performing research on GMO crops.)
McGrath, Charles. “Story Idea: Our Relationship with Other Primates.” The New York Times, February 21, 2009.
(An article that explores the ethical dimensions of, for example, keeping a chimp as a pet.)
Kristof, Nicholas. D. “Story Idea: Diseases and Animals.” The New York Times, March 11, 2009.
(A very “dark side” article on hogs and MRSA.)
The Canary Project
The Canary Project produces visual media, events, and artwork that build public understanding of human-induced climate change and energize commitment to solutions.
Gawande, Atul. “Desperate Measures.” In The Best American Science Writing 2004. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2004, pp. 8-28. ISBN: 9780060726409.
(A great essay on the development of surgery in the 2nd half of the 20th century that focuses in on the question of how much risk we are willing to take to save lives.)
Kanigel, Robert. The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan. New York, NY: Washington Square Press, 1991, pp. 1-7 (prologue); 85-92 and 382-83 (notes). ISBN: 9780671750619.
(These excerpts from Rob Kanigel’s biography of the mathematician Ramanujan is a good example of how to write about math concepts.)