Science as Art in Contemporary Theater, Fall 2013


Final presentations will be Saturday at 11:00am. Happy to have office hours this week to work with folks. Stay in touch--

Steve's Office Hours (Warner 402): Mon 2-3, Tues 11-12, Wed 1--2, Thurs 3-4, or by appointment.

Cheryl's Office Hours (MCFA 329): Tues and Thurs 3:15--4:15, or by appointment

Course Policies

E-reserve (2216af)

Class List

Discussion Questions for review: Life of Galileo, Isaac's Eye, Copenhagen, Arcadia, A Number, A Disappearing Number, Five Hysterical Girls Theorem, Experiment With An Airpump, Lovesong of the Electric Bear

Schedule of Reading Assignments and Due Dates.

Sep 10: introduction to science and theater

Class: quantitative and theatrical encounter with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, by Tom Stoppard

Sep 12: Reading: "The Starry Messenger" Bronowski (e-reserve) and Life of Galileo. (odd discussion questions due)

Class: scenes and discussion.


 Sep 17: Reading: “The Majestic Clockwork,” Brownowski, and “Flawed Genius,” Djerassi and Pinner (e-reserve)

Class: LAB #1: Newtonian mechanics

Sep 19 : Reading: Isaac’s Eye by Lucas Hnath (even discussion questions due)

Class: acting/directing workshop


 Sep 24: Reading: none. Lab #1 due (one report per group)

Class: scenes and discussion of Isaac’s Eye

Sep 26 : Reading: Copenhagen (odd discussion question due)

Class: discussion of uncertainty principle, complementarity, role of the observer in theater and quantum mechanics.


Oct 1 : Reading: “Entangling Space” from Greene, pp 77-98, but you don't have to stop reading (e-reserve)

Class: meet in Bi-Hall for demonstration of wave/particle properties of light.

Oct 3: Reading: none, but re-read Copenhagen and Green. Mini-lab due--(handout from class).

Class:scenes and discussion of Copenhagen

[Due date for response papers on Isaac’s Eye]


 Oct 8: Reading: Arcadia by Tom Stoppard (even discussion question due)

Class: discussion, classical versus romantic

Oct 10: Reading: Selections from Gleik (e-reserve)

Class: LAB #2, Fractals and Chaos. Meet in our regular space and BRING A LAPTOP if you have one.

[Due date for response papers on Copenhagen** postponed until Tuesday, Oct 15]


Oct 15: Reading: none

Class: scenes and discussion/video of Arcadia

Oct 17: Reading: A Number by Caryl Churchill (odd discussion question due)

Class: Guest performance and discussion


Oct 22: Fall Break

Oct 24: Reading: A Mathematician’s Apology by G.H. Hardy (email from me), with introduction by C.P. Snow (e-reserve).

[Due date for response papers on Arcadia--this is moved to Friday afternoon.]


 Oct 29: Reading: A Disappearing Number by McBurney/Complicite (even discussion question due)

Class: workshop on devised theater and mathematical creativity

Oct 31: Reading: The Five Hysterical Girls Theorem by Rinne Groff (odd discussion question due)

Class: Scenes and discussion from both math plays


Nov 5: Reading: none

Class: Scenes and discussion from both math plays, continued. [Due date for Number Theory lab.]

Nov 7: Reading: An Experiment with an Airpump by Shelagh Stevenson (even discussion question due)

Class: scenes and discussion


Nov 12: Reading: none

Class: Scenes and discussion of Airpump

Nov 14: Reading: TBD:

Class: Science and Ethics Forum with Prof. James Davis (Religion) and Prof Glen Ernstrom (Biology), focusing on contemporary issues in genetics, fetal diagnostics, reproductive technology.

[Due date for response papers on Disappearing Number and/or Hysterical Girls]


Nov 19: Reading: short biography of Alan Turing by Andrew Hodges; also, Forward by Douglas Hofstadter (both on e-reserve under Life and Legacy of Alan Turing. )

Class: LAB: #5: Turing machines

[Due date for response papers on Airpump] (***extended until Thursday of this week***)

Nov 21: Reading: Lovesong of the Electric Bear by Snoo Wilson (odd discussion question due). This can be obtained from the playwright's webpage:

Class: Scenes and discussion of Lovesong


Nov 24: Special Event: Class trip to NYC to see The Curious Case of the Watson Intelligence


Nov 26: class cancelled for NYC field trip.

Nov 28: Thanksgiving


Dec 3: Reading: "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" by Alan Turing (e-reserve). It's not long ,but focus on section 1, 2, 3, 6, 7--especially 6. Also--review Lovesong so that you are prepared to discuss it in class. (I noticed that the e-res verion of this article has the bottom line of the page occasionally chopped off. You can find copies of this article all over the web--it's quite famous.)

Class: The Turing Test as theater [Due date for Turing Machine lab.]

Dec 5: Discuss final presentations and assign groups

[Due date for response papers on Lovesong]


Dec 14: 7--10pm. Final Presentations: