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revising as we go

Anne Dalke's picture

Just to be sure that we are all on the same page: the revised syllabus is now on-line @ /sci_cult/courses/genderscience/

Of most immediate relevance: this coming Monday morning, 4/9, we will visit the conceptual physics class; come to the Physics Lecture Hall in Park 243 by 10:10. Peter Beckmann will have a little time to talk with us afterwards; think about what questions you might bring to that discussion.

You need not post this weekend, but before Wed's class (when we'll be reading the poetry selections, and a few other short pieces) please post your reactions, either to the class or to the new readings.




sky stegall's picture

a little sorrow, a little joy

i was so sad to miss conceptual physics!  to be fair, i have sat in on that particular class before and obviously i've had peter in class (three semesters, actually, and he's my major advisor, and he was my boss one year.  sheesh!).  i've got to wonder, though - alex, why are you so excited that he got flustered?  and what happened?  in other news, i was thrilled by the poetry we did in class.  y'all know (becuse anne asked) that i love poetry, and that working through it can be a really enjoyable activity for me, especially when we get so many interesting and different minds working together.  poetry, like physics, like good literature, like history, like art, like everything, is for me just another way to tell stories about the universe, and i like that, because i'm a storyteller.  

Rebecca's picture

Group poetry

I really enjoyed our class discussion today of Jane Hirshfield's "Empedocles' Physics." At the beginning of our meeting we discussed our prior experience with poetry and mine was hardly any. However, I really feel that I learned how to approach a poem today while I was listening to everyone work through it.

I think we demonstrated one more way in which the natural sciences and the humanities/social sciences are not that different. Both can benefit from a view from "many somewheres." We each had created different stories about what the poem was saying (and we all did seem to have the need to create a story). None of the stories were wrong yet I think the collaboration was a much more meaningful story than our individual ones.

And you have all inspired me to read more poetry...

Pemwrez2009's picture

Everything but the kitchen sink.

As for the conceptual physics class...Go ANNE GO FLORA! I think that he got really flustered and uncomfortable. Not that a conceptual physics class has any demand for anything concrete but of course Barad was haunting my thoughts every moment of the class.

I was struck in our small meeting with him after class when he said that he conducts the class to cater to the interests or needs of the women he is teaching. While I saw some Traweek in his approach something about that really made me feel uncomfortable. How will conceptual physics lead us to develop an interest to pursue the science further.

The Poems:

in the first poem, I had a difficult time deciding what my reaction was. Not that one has to have a reaction to poems but I usually do. I guess I got this notion of: we use the old in the creation of the new from "old students of the new physics" that science evolves. and I liked when the author wrote "wen i move my wings energies change around the world round and round and up...up....up... into the sky. I may cause storm/hurricane/tornado when I move my wings.

I guess I liked Fabian's poem a lot more, but that's probably because it was a whole lot more accessible. I liked that she emphasized that we are sort of all made of the same stuff...and that we are

my favorite poem was "A Physics". What I got from the poem is that we are all governed by the principles which we create. That was evident to me in how she talked about God.

In the last poem "The New Physics" the first line of the poem "and so, the closer he looks at things, the farther away they seem." reminded me of the conceptual physics class and how one of the students was talking about looking at a picture and the size of the person in the picture and how the other culture viewed the person. I also thought about our discussion and the idea of eliminating distance for example. All of these quantifying concepts. It just makes you think about how much of your life is defined by the presences of the constructs that we deem as objective. Maybe gender and sexuality are not our only human made limiting constructs. Maybe numbers are just as limiting as names.


And lastly, I would not be able to post without talking about V. Dubbya....A room of one's own is by far my favorite of all her work. I have read this about 50 times and love every bit of it. I was so happy that my favorite parts of the story are in the section for class especially where she writes: "but she lives; for great poets do not die; they are continuing presences; they need only the opportunity to walk among us in the flesh"


rmalfi's picture

R-E-S-P-O-N-S-I-B-I-L-I-T-Y that is what it means to me.

Yeah, that doesn't fit into a melody quite as well as RESPECT, but that's ok.

I really enjoyed visiting the Conceptual Physics class on Monday. While it was only a brief look at what this course actually has to offer, I did get the sense that Prof. Beckmann is fulfilling the goal that Barad outlined in her paper on Science Literacy. He is teaching people to think scientifically and critically regardless of the math or the calculations. He mentioned that he does teach "the technical stuff" and that this course is "rigorous" and is certainly not what one might call "physics for football players" (no offense to any football player - E.A.G.L.E.S. all the way). I think it's great that he gets the science in - that is, perhaps, the point of this class. But what I found really encouraging was the evaluative nature of this class... People really try to wrap their heads around physics/philosophy concepts, and he pushes people to say what they think, even if they don't believe it. He's teaching people to be *responsible* scientific thinkers. Don't just trust what people feed you - think about it, mull it over, and even if you do believe it, be willing to think something different later. Realize that your own perception has an influence on what you know and understand... Have he and Barad talked? It seems like they'd get along.

I really liked the discussion about reality and relativity (surrounding the "tree story"). Had I read the story I may have felt more in the loop, but mostly I was just really amazed that so many students had something to say and that they had really read the piece and cared to offer an answer... He has obviously created an environment in which the students feel comfortable.

On a completely different note, I thought it was interesting that no males were in the class. Of course, we have a 3:1 female to male ratio in the bi-co, and that plays a factor, but not one single male? Why is that? There are pleny of guys who take Geo103 to pass their science requirement/lab requirement and it involves probably just as little math...

Also, on the reading from Race and Gender, I found it very interesting that scientists/phrenologists tried to classify women as a separate "race" for some time... That really, hardly makes sense to me. It seems like women were thought to be... loathesome in some way... which doesn't make any sense because they are NEEDED for reproduction.... harumph I say.

Anne Dalke's picture

literary catch-up

Wednesday's class will be a *delicious* literary catch-up day: I want to spend some more time on those *few* unanswered questions I still have about Properties of Light. I'll want to discuss the collection of poems with you (look esp. @ the connections between Goldstein's novel and "Empedocles' Physics"). I'll want to be thinking with you about how differently novels work from poems, and poems from essays, like Stepan's on "The Role of Analogy in Science," and the final few paragraphs of Virginia Woolf's very-famous A Room of One's Own.




eli's picture

Reactions to the Class

The format of the class we observed was interesting; it really felt like a Physics For Poets class, as had been described by Barad. My understanding is that the readings in past weeks had been more technical in nature, though, so perhaps we just came at an opportune time.

The fact that there was only one declared Physics major in the class might have created a different atmosphere, and the fact that the only male in the room was the professor might be interesting to consider. How does this change the dynamic? What would it be like if the class had more physics majors? Would the humanities majors feel like they had to differ to them? I've noticed in our own class that we often differ to the various students according their major, particularly the science major students or those with a history of science. Also, the fact that physics is embodied in their classroom via Professor Beckmann might be interesting to consider.

There were several aspects of the class that I liked, although from the point of view of applying these tactics to science classrooms. The small group discussions, for one; while physics classes often have small group work, my understanding is that the emphasis on those is trying to work through problem sets together. How is that different from having a dialogue about the topic? When I took my lab sciences, the point was to get the answer so you could be done faster, not to understand.

The journal entries I thought were particularly intriguing, since at the beginning of the class the professor emphasized, for an example, that the differences between coal and nuclear power are mostly social and political issues. Or that the students needed to research the human aspects of, say, coal power -- with human mortality rates, and such. Would this satisfy Barad?

A small comment that sticks out in my mind was one related to a question that Rosemary made, concerning the post-bacs own introductory physics class. Relating back to the comment I made about the point of my lab sciences being to get to the end and not the journey... doesn't that accomplish the same thing? If post-bacs are given a class on physics just so that they can check off that they've accomplished that milestone on their way to becoming a doctor, are they really learning anything? Isn't the point of higher education to take something from the classroom besides a grade?