Comparative Studies 367.02     SP  2002         
Values, Science, and Technology in American Culture:  Shaping Our Bodies

Class Meetings: Monday and Wednesday, 1:30 P.M. – 3:18 P.M., University Hall, Room 0056

Instructor:          Sean Scheiderer                    E-mail:
Office:              410 Mendenhall Lab             Mail Box:   308 Dulles Hall
Office Hours:  Tuesday 1:30–3:00,                  Web Site: 
                    or by appointment                                                     

The goal of this course is to read about, think about, talk about, and finally, write about how science and technology operate within and as American culture. In order to do this, we will look at science and technology in ways that scientists and other citizens usually don’t.
We will listen to how the scientific establishment itself describes science, and then we will look to see if such is actually realized, realizable, or even desirable in practice. We will analyze the language of science in order to discover how it imagines the universe, and examine the rhetoric of science to see how it constructs its truths. Since we as a people are immersed in and dependent upon science and technology which we often have little understanding of, we will also pay attention to how non-scientists talk about these, including politicians, journalists, artists, and other popularizers as they try to bridge the gap between makers and users of science. We will see how scientific facts are made and un-made, how distinctions between “good” and “bad” science are drawn, and how the boundaries of science are established, policed, and harried. We will question the modern mythic beliefs of objectivity, progress, and truth, and explore how the hopes and fears of individuals and of society as a whole are shaped by science and technology, and vice versa.
We will conduct these interrogations mainly within the context of topical issues surrounding the shaping of our bodies, including diet, exercise, and nutritional supplementation. We will discuss the reckoning and creation of value (artistic, athletic, economic, ethical, intellectual, religious, social) involved in these and ask if there are different—maybe even better—ways for us as individuals, institutions, or a nation to practice science and develop or use technology, e.g., more effectively, more responsibly, or more equitably.

This is first and foremost a writing course, and you will be required to write three essays, two outside of class, and one in class as a final exam, along with some short identifications. Specific guidelines for the essays and a study guide for the final will be available on the web site. Before you can effectively make your own arguments, you will have to first learn to recognize and analyze the arguments of others. You must therefore do the reading assignments and attend class in order to discuss them. I have tried to be reasonable in the amount of reading I ask you to do in order that you can read it all and read it well, i.e., engage it, think about it, form opinions. Review questions on each reading will be available on the web site in order to help you identify the main points, and we will go over these during class discussion.
Oral expression skills is the second major component and goal of this course. Your participation grade will be based on your contribution to class and small group discussions, as well as your involvement in the online class discussion forum. I will take attendance every class, and more than two unexcused absences will affect your grade negatively, one third of a grade per missed class, e.g., from a B+ to a B. In my attendance ledger I will also make note of significant participation from individuals for each class. I also reserve the right to levy pop quizzes if I feel the class has been neglecting the reading, and these would figure into your participation grade as well.


Essay #1                4 pages          25%
Essay #2                4 pages          25%     
Final               short essay and IDs  25%
Participation             15%
Attendance               10%

The composite grade for each essay will be at least the average of the grade for the first graded version and the grades for any subsequent revisions. Printed essays are to be turned in to me at the beginning of class. Any late work will be penalized one letter grade per day (including the due date). Put late essays in my hands or in my mailbox at 308 Dulles (office closes at 5PM)—do not e-mail them.

Plagiarism, i.e., presenting someone else’s writing or ideas as your own, is the ultimate academic sin. I will refer all suspected cases to the Committee on Academic Misconduct. Please don’t put either of us in this situation. Remember, when in doubt, go ahead and credit the source!

It is my assigned duty to help you learn the methods and mechanics of good writing through instruction both in class and in one-to-one meetings. I will happily look at drafts of your essays and I strongly encourage revisions. The MLA style manual (see below) also contains much helpful information on organizing and presenting your thoughts in writing. The OSU Writing Center offers invaluable writing skills tutoring, including grammar advice, all for free. The Center is located at 485 Mendenhall Labs and can be contacted at 688-4291. It’s web site is located at

TEXTS  (available at Student Book Exchange (SBX), at 14th & High Street, 291-9528)

Atkins, Robert C. Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution: The Amazing No-Hunger Weight-Loss Plan That Has
        Helped Millions Lose Weight and Keep It Off
. New York: Avon, 1999.

Kirby, Jane. Dieting for Dummies. Indianapolis: IDG, 1998.

Kuhn, Cynthia, and Scott Swartzwelder and Wilkie Wilson. Pumped: Straight Facts for Athletes About
        Drugs, Supplements, and Training
. New York: Norton, 2000.

National Academy of Sciences. On Being A Scientist. 2nd ed. Washington: National Academy Press, 1995.

STYLE  MANUAL   (available at SBX; style manual for this course, as well many other courses)
Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 5th ed. New York: MLA, 1999.
        (overview at

A collection of several smaller readings is available at Grade A Notes. A bright pink information sheet about this course packet will be distributed in class. A copy will be available at the reserve counter of the main library.

        I reserve the right to change this at any time, so come to class and check the web site regularly. The online syllabus is superior to the one handed out on the first day of class. Readings are to be read and questions answered by class time on the dates listed.           

WEEK   1        
        APR    1
                Introductory Lecture
        APR    3
                On Being A Scientist: 1-21. (SBX)

WEEK   2        
        APR    8        
Balabanian, Norman. “Presumed Neutrality of Technology.” Controlling Technology: Contemporary Issues. New York: Prometheus, 1991. 249-264. (course packet)
                Williams, Raymond. Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. New York: Oxford UP,
                        1983. Entries = "Nature," and "Science." (course packet)
        APR  10
                Orwell, George. “What is Science?”. 1945. Science and Technology Today. ed. Nancy
                        R. MacKenzie. New York: St. Martin’s, 1995. 12–15. (course packet)
                Thomas, Lewis. “The Hazards of Science.”  Science and Technology Today. ed. Nancy R.
                        MacKenzie. New York: St. Martin’s, 1995. 149-154. (course packet)

WEEK   3
        APR  15
                Gould, Stephen Jay. "Three: Measuring Heads." The Mismeasure of Man. 1981. Rev. & expanded
                        ed. New York: Norton, 1996. 105141. (course packet)
        APR  17
                Kuhn, Thomas S. “The Route to Normal Science,” The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 1962.
rd ed. U. of Chicago P: Chicago, 1996. 10-22. (course packet)

WEEK   4        
        APR  22
                FIRST  ESSAY  DUE       
                Pumping Iron. Dir. George Butler and Robert Fiore. 1976. Videocassette. Rhino, 1992.
        APR  24
                Latour, Bruno. “Introduction: Opening Pandora’s Black Box.” Science In Action. Cambridge:
                        Harvard UP, 1987. 1-17. (course packet)

WEEK   5        
        APR  29         
                        Latour, Bruno. “Chapter 1: Literature.” Science In Action. Intro, Sections A & B (not C), 21-44; Conclusion, 60-62. (course packet)
        MAY   1
                Dieting for Dummies. Introduction, Chapters 1, 4, 6. (SBX)
WEEK   6                
        MAY    6                
                REVISION  OF  FIRST  ESSAY  DUE         
Dieting for Dummies. Chapters 9, 10, 20.        
        MAY    8
                Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution. All three prefaces, Chapter 1: xi-xviii, pp. 1-23. (SBX)

WEEK   7
        MAY  13
                Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution. Chapters 2-6, pp. 24-79.
        MAY  15
                Web Presentation

WEEK   8
MAY  20
                SECOND  ESSAY  DUE
                Pumping Iron II: The Women. George Butler. 1985. Videocassette. Central Park Media, 1996.
        MAY  22
                        Schwarzenegger, Arnold and Bill Dobbins. “The Abdomen,” and “Weight Control: Gaining Muscle, Losing Fat.” The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998. 533-62, 731-47. (course packet)

WEEK   9        
        MAY  27
                MEMORIAL  DAY;  NO  CLASSES             
        MAY  29 
                Pumped. Chapters 1–4: 13-65. (SBX)

WEEK 10 
        JUN     3
Pumped. Chapter 5: 66-101.
        JUN    5
                Student Evaluation of Instructor. Course Summation and Review

        JUN  12 Wednesday 1:30
                FINAL  EXAM
        JUN  13 Thursday
                ALL  FINAL  REVISIONS  DUE  BY  4:00 PM  IN  MAILBOX  AT  308  DULLES
                If you want your graded essays back, please include S.A.S.E.