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Week 14--Finale!

Anne Dalke's picture

Here's the schedule for your final performances. Each group should plan on a 10-minute presentation (we'll keep you to this, so there's equal time for all plus some conversation). Also plan ahead, please, for any technical/technological requirements!

Tuesday, May 1

Group 1: Isabelle, EB and Elle

Group 2: Andrea, Laura, Vijaya, Tamarinda and Elise

Group 3: Trinh and Tu

Group 4: Becky, Hayley and Jasmine

Group 5A: Caitlin and Jenn

Group 5B: Gaby

Thursday, May 3

Group 6: Emily and Karen

Group 7: Katie, Shannon, Christina and Kristin

Group 8: Mariel, Katherine, Anne and Megan

Group 9: Caroline, Danielle and Ingrid

Group 10: Amy and Lisa

Group 11: Evan, Sarah and Lavinia

Anonymous's picture


This is one of the most engaging and insightful course-based blogs I've ever seen. Wish I could've taken this class...

Student's picture


Hm... my presentation was just a bunch of notes- but I'll summarize here!  Emily and I decided to look at evolution from two different points of view... I put a picture from the Hubble Space telescope up on the screen, that showed a whole bunch of different galaxies, the furthest we've ever been able to see into space, and asked the class what they thought was beyond what we know...whether we'd even be able to identify life out there, if it exists, or if our standards and measurements for life would be so far off that we wouldn't be able to even recognize it...  Emily brought us "back to Earth", showing a clip from Planet Earth of a bird with..unusual habits, and played the clip without sound, having us create our own stories (I thought the bird was dancing), and then played the clip with sound and narration, where the bird was actually doing a mating dance/cleaning... we talked about evolution a little and made our own stories, shared (gave candy!), and thought about our small planet, and all that has evolved that we don't even know about, and thought about all the possibilties that could be out there. (the telescope picture)

I.W.'s picture

Obser ---vation


Title: “Bringing Generativity Back”

Music please.



Thirteen weeks ago: (:10)

Do you remember?


And shopping…

And shopping…

Then suddenly –

A story.


Obser—vation… (:25)



Was it true? (:33)

Was it false?

Was it right?

Was it wrong?


Obser—vation… (:41)




You see there was the Earth, (:48)

And the sun.

And the Earth:

It was flat.


[EB & Izzie]:

But wait –

Isn’t it round?!


Obser—vation… (1:01)



So there was Charles – (1:09)


And his Origin

Of Species


[EB & Izzie]:

Heritability (1:17)


And random variation






Obser—vation… (1:23)




And now (1:31)

A transition


[EB & Elle]:

Eeee, eeeee, eeeee, eeee, oooh (awkward transition noise)



Literature (1:38)

With Howard’s End

Came a question:


Or practical?


Obser—vation… (1:49)



There was a concert (1:57)

And a symphony.

Do you hear the goblins?

Or see the colors?

The notes?



Or Fräulein Mosebach? (2:06)






We’ve had Mayr (2:17)

And Dennet.


And Smith.

The Authors Four

To guide us on our journey.

A narrative process

Of discovery.

Lead by Grobstein,

And Dalke.




And Dalke.


And Dalke.


And Dalke. (2:45)

SarahMalayaSniezek's picture

Generalizations and Morality

Evan, Lavinia and I presented on Generalizations and Morality.

We played a clip from Dave Chappelle’s “Killin Me Softly” DVD. The video clip consisted of a comedian, Dave Chappell, making cultural joke about how humans interact.

Now…What does this joke represent about how we as humans make decisions in our every day lives?

What Dave Chappell is either indirectly or directly conveying is that humans interact with one another and make crucial everyday decisions through creating generalizations and using those generalizations to predict the outcomes of certain behaviors and actions.

As U.S. citizens we generalize that all people wearing a blue or black uniform with a matching cap, a badge, and a gun are police officers. We not only generalize about their looks for identification, but we also generalize about their behavior. We generalize that if a police officer sees that we need help, he or she will try to help us. We therefore, use these generalizations to make predictions about how they will behave if we call for help. On a specific case by case not every police officer will help us, but that doesn’t mean that the generalizations we make are not useful.

In fact, every interaction we have with another human, involves the interpretation of a generalization we created in our head. We write our papers a certain way, because we predict through generalization that our professor likes certain types of writing. What about the Patriot Act?

Many social theorists such Max Weber, Emile Derkheim argue some extent that our ability need to generalize to make assumptions about ones behavior lead to the creation of social norms, which in turn lead to the creation of communal laws.

Ultimately our ability to interpret behavior to make generalizations has greatly increased our ability to survive as a species. With out it we would not be able to function. It is clear that the characteristic of making generalizations and using them to our decision making advantage was evolutionarily selected for. We are now biologically wired to make generalizations about everything, either consciously, or unconsciously.

However, we have come to a point in our civilization where making certain generalizations, including those associated with race, ethnicity or gender are morally unacceptable. Even if it is our natural tendency to make generalizations, it is also our natural tendency to make moral decisions.

Morality, like generalizing, also has a selective advantage. The two major theories about how morality evolved in humans suggest that morality either allowed groups to work well together, group selection, or that morality gave individuals a selective advantage by enticing them to help others in need, and in turn receiving necessary help when they needed it. Either way, morality evolved just as generalizing, giving us humans a selective advantage over other species.

So now we presented two characteristics, generalizing and morality, that are both very important to our survival as evolution has dictated, are now conflicting with one another.

So what is next? For the rest of our civilization, will humans have to repress the desire to generalize in certain situations? If so, what will be the repercussions of doing so? Will this create sociopaths or other psychological issues? It seems to us that morality is wining this war, but is this the right thing for humans as a society? As a species?

We wanted to portray that as humans it is inevitable that we make generalizations, even if they are negative. Unfortunately, making generalizations can conflict with morality, therefore which will win out or will we just suppress the negative generalizations. From class we could clearly see that individuals today are just suppressing negative generalizations to keep from conflict and to be “morally” correct. The important thing that did not seem to get emphasized in class is that we all make negative generalizations, it might not seem as blatantly negative to us such as assuming a woman dressed in a short skirt wants attention, however any generalization we make could offend someone and could be considered immoral. Who is to decide which generalizations are immoral or are all generalizations immoral?

I also do not understand the comments made about the Patriot Act. How is it ok to generalize/stereotype towards people that are not US citizens? Wouldn’t that just be as immoral as generalizing/stereotyping US citizens? Where are these boundaries drawn? Why can we not just understand that it is our human nature to generalize which in turn helps us survive, and that at times making negative generalizations does increase our chances of survival. It does not mean it is morally right, but it still happens.

Shannon's picture


Mind Wanderings

A Presentation by Shannon, Christina, Kristin, and Katie


1) “I WANT TRUTH BACK” - Shannon


It’s all I ever wanted

It’s all I ever needed, Yeah…

So Tell me what to do now

Cause (I,I,I,I,I) I want Truth Back

Beginning of this semester

Trying to figure out just what to do

Science & Arts combined OH NOOO!

So Anne and Paul explain it,

‘Cause Lord knows I HATE ambiguity…

I go crazy without truth.



It’s all I ever wanted

It’s all I ever needed, Yeah…

So Tell me what to do now

When I want Truth Back


In regards to evolution

I’ve accepted facts as “Truth” without regret

Cuz I’m a “black & white” kinda girl…

But science as a process?

Of getting things “less wrong”, I suppose.

An ongoing story & its revisions…


Learn that truth’s a work of fiction.

And that Science & art continue to evolve

New, useful stories are waiting to emerge.



I won’t be intimidated

I’ll relate books & science in my sleep

And summarize observations like a pro

Obscurity isn’t scary

…so you know what that means…

The Truth goes BYE, BYE, BYE!





2) “A Day in Paul Grobstein’s Past”

A Video By Christina the “AV Girl”


Paul: What’s a pretty girl like you doing here?

Kelly: Just chillin. Getting a tan.

Paul: Well, you better be careful. The sun gets really hot. I’ve got extra lotion if you need it. Wink.

Kelly: Whatever.

Paul: So………………. I’m Paul by the way.

Kelly: Ok.

Paul: And you are?

Kelly: I’m Kelly.

Paul: And what is it you do, Kelly? You know, like for work?

Kelly: I’m a model, if you must know.

Paul: That’s cool. I…uh….I….like models……………….I’m a scientist.

Kelly: Oh, that’s nice.

Paul: You know, us scientists, we make important discoveries.

Kelly: Ok.

Paul: Like we discovered that the Earth was round! People had gone for like thousands of years thinking the Earth was flat, and then scientists like me came along, and told them it was round. It was the best discovery ever. Really, we wouldn’t be sittin here like this, if we hadn’t told Columbus the world was round. Cause then he wouldn’t have discovered America.

Kelly: The earth could be flat.

Paul: Absolutely not. It is round, I tell you.

Kelly: How do you know? Let me guess, when you walk outside, you slope downward.

Paul: Uh, not really, but I still know.

Kelly: Then you’ve been in outerspace and saw that the Earth was a sphere?

Paul: Well, not exactly.

Kelly: So then you say it’s round cause someone told you it was round? It could be flat. You don’t know that it’s not flat. It feels flat to me.

Paul: Ahhhhhh….I don’t know what the truth is anymore!

Kelly: The truth is there is no truth. Truth doesn’t exist. What people must do is to get things less wrong. If you do that, you’ll become a great scientist.

Paul: That’s it! Thank you for your wisdom. I leave here forever a changed man. I’ve learned so much. Maybe I should teach a course about it…


3) “Dear Diary” – Kristin

Dear Diary,


This class is making my brain hurt like WOAH! At least I’m having a good hair day… but REALLY, Grobstein is completely off his rocker! I mean, reality?? Sooo simple! In reality, that bag is SO last season, and those shoes – SUPER CUTE! No, but seriously, what if he’s right? What if reality really doesn’t exist? What if everyone’s reality is totally different? Maybe in her reality, stripes and plaids match – because in mine they DEF don’t! What if the world doesn’t actually revolve around me??... NAH, Obvi not true… And truth? What if there ISN”T such a thing as truth? What if everything we’ve ever been taught is just a story—not fact, not fiction, just a good story. Is there even a section in Barnes and Noble for that? OMG the world could be flat! The South Beach Diet could be a total HOAX! Wait – does this mean that all those question I got wrong on the chemistry test are actually right?? Somehow I feel like that won’t really fly…


Anyways, Diary… class is over so I GTG








4) You Killed Truth

A Photo Journal by: Persephone, Princess of Darkness


What is truth?









A Childhood Fantasy?



Truth was a flower.

It grew in nature.

It was always in bloom…

…but just out of reach.

I loved truth.

It made me happy.

Then Paul took truth…

…and destroyed it.

Now truth is dead
& I am sad.

Christina Cunnane's picture


My group played both on the ideas of mindwanderings and truth. We did this in a way so that it all relates to art. Shannon made a song, I made a movie, Kristin wrote a diary entry, and Katie made a photo journal. Shannon took the simple story about truth we were given in class and turned it into her own story, one of a pop song. I took the story and decided to give it an evolutionary past and made a movie of the creation of the story. Kristin molded the story into how it relates into her own world, evolving into a diary. And Katie took the story and transformed it into photographic art. We showed that there were multiple ways that one story can evolve.

Paul Grobstein's picture


Thanks all for not only a great semester but a great set of wrap up performances. Pics available at

  • /sci_cult/evolit/s07/pics/
  • /sci_cult/evolit/s07/pics2/
  • /sci_cult/evolit/s07/pics3/
  • /sci_cult/evolit/s07/pics4/
rebeccafarber's picture

May 1, 2007 A spoken word

May 1, 2007

A spoken word performance by

Becky Farber

Hayley Reed

Jasmine Shafagh

Followed by an interactive group activity






Somewhere out there we have

the truth:

An untouchable entity

we will never fully grasp.

That which happens

really does happen.

The sandwich has been eaten. The crumbs have fallen.

Yet if the details are emitted from our story,

are they emitted

from our reality?

You see what I see and know what I don’t know but what I know isn’t what you know and do we know what we know at all?

 But who’s to decide which version of the story is the most complete

 Most accurate

 Most appealing?

 All those details go lost

 all these vantage points combined will never fully add up

Add up.

 Truth is an unreachable landmark,

 a destination not even Columbus could broach.

 Here we all are,

 sharing the same experience

 Yet forming different stories of our different realities




 Options for interpretation of reality

 No limits.

 Science’s goal is observing reality

 Reality is unattainable.

 Science is an account that gets it less wrong.

 Less wrong.

 Less wrong.

 Less wrong.

Less wrong.

 The observations of science

 are based on the crack of subjectivity:

 Seeing what we choose to see,

 interpreting it how we choose to interpret,

 and then calling it fact.

 So will we ever understand

 Ever know?

 We are all just sound vibrations

 in an orchestra we can’t fully hear.

 Just pieces of the story.


I am reality.

I am truth.

I am the complete story.


And I am the story teller, getting closer and closer yet never quite touching.


 So why do we bother constructing reality?

 Why we do recount



 stories that may not ever mirror what actually happened

 It’s the pragmatic way of life

 The only way to accept knowing you go through life

 not fully knowing


A flower. Before us.

 I see growth.

 I see life.

 I see the

We agree to disagree.

 Our different interpretations of reality are uniting forces

 in our quest for truth.

 If we realize that every individual truth has merit

 we will accept each other’s ideas.

 Only connect over variations of what can be seen.




 Beyond us.

 Yet we come closer.

With our stories.





azambetti's picture

From the Wolf's Perspective...

My group took a well know non-narrative and generated from it four narratives.  We played off the fairy tale of “The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf.”  While incorporating many of the bigger themes in the course, we constructed personalities and perspectives for each of the characters.  For example, I played the misunderstood wolf.  In our story the wolf had allergies and accidentally sneezed down the houses.  The wolf wanted to “only connect” with his new neighbors in the forest, so he visited the pigs’ homes bearing sugar cookies.  The pigs, of course, took the traditional approach of thinking that the wolf wanted to eat them, but each had a very unique angle for why they built the type of house they had (straw, sticks and brick).  In the end I, the wolf, was arrested by the pig police, but was fortunate enough to express my concern for the misunderstanding in an interview by an E! television series.

Andrea Zambetti

LS's picture


Yes, so as Annie explained we looked at the Three Little Pigs as a fairy tale that has become non narrative, we strove to make this story narrative by changing trying to tell the story from all the angles of all the character involved, including the narrator.  We though about A LOT of ideas, and this was actually not our original plan.  We originally were going to do an infomercial selling the class but decided that this was more generative.  It was really fun to be able to change a story that is so well known giving the characters new meaning and the entire story a new twist.  Our presentation was actually based on the book The Stinky Cheeseman, which takes a lot of well known fairy tales and tells them from different angles.  It’s a kids’ book but I totally recommend it!

marquisedemerteuil's picture

my presentation/lecture

so, my group and i presented today. caitlin and jenn went ahead of me. caitlin talked about how intention is a part of the scientific process because scientists not only collect but come to conclusions about their information. jenn talked about the complex relationship between readers and authors and how they may have different motivations when reading a text and how that leads to different interpretations. then i went up to my "lecturn" and talked about intentionality in barthes, foucault and smith. my final paper, which says all this in more detail than my presentation, has already been posted. basically, barthes and foucault don't think the author matters and wants to give text back to the reader, and smith, 40 years later, restates the conservative position, that the reader has to figure out what the writer is saying. if there aren't right ways to interpret a text, there are "less wrong" ones, and barthes and foucault wouldn't even say that. i ended by presenting 4 comparisons. (all are in my paper except the beckett quotes.) they address these subjects differently: the relationship between narration and reality, the author is universal fact or changing cultural phenomenon, and the place of the critic.

the main difference between my presentation and the others was that the others managed to be interactive. i would have asked questions, but i went over 5 minutes as it was! i actually skipped or skimmed plenty of what was in my 2 pages of "lecture notes." i detailed foucault's 4 ways of explaining why a text is constructed by the author function in my notes, but i only described one of them in the presentation. that's fine, because this list is detailed and the point comes across without it. it was fun having the lecturn because i had a nice place for my hands. i can see why profs enjoy them so much. i hope to use them for all future presentations (i have one on thursday in fact, and the classroom has a lovely lecturn). i suppose most people did "performances" a few did "presentations" and i basically did "a lecture." i think that diversity is cool. i hope this lecture will be the first of many, and that they'll get longer and more complicated.

Anne Dalke's picture

use this forum post an account of what you did for your final presentation in the class.

marquisedemerteuil's picture

woo hoo!

last on tuesday is just what i wanted! thanks, profs!