Stages of Discovery: Revolutions in Art and Science was a full-time lower-division program designed to introduce students to the tools artists and scientists use to investigate our world. We studied two historical periods—the Renaissance and the early 20th century—characterized by major revolutions in western scientific and artistic practices. We also read contemporary plays about science, in order to begin to think comparatively about what art and science have to offer each other in the 21st century. We studied primarily theater and musical forms of art, and our study of science focused on physics, including topics in Galilean physics, special relativity, and quantum physics.
Particular emphasis was placed on helping the students develop their own learning goals for the program, but all students were asked to develop a good working knowledge of the investigative methods used by artists and scientists, and to work deliberately on improving their written and oral communication skills. During the first fourteen weeks of the program, students participated in weekly lectures and seminars as well as performance, writing, and physics workshops. During winter quarter, students also attended weekly skill-building workshops in either music, script-writing, or science. Students wrote frequent short seminar papers and follow-up responses. They demonstrated their understanding of the materials covered in physics lectures and workshops through submission of problem sets and completion of a problem-based in-class exam and a take-home essay exam. They completed four critical essays that were peer-reviewed and submitted for faculty review, as well completing a synthetic take-home essay exam at the end of fall quarter.
For the final six weeks of the program, students worked collaboratively to design performances on a scientific topic of their choice based on a survey of scientific literature. The goals of this project were for students to hone existing skills and develop new ones, to learn to express their understanding of a topic through the medium of performance, and to explore the question: “What is the social and/or artistic function of a science play?” Students learned how to produce an annotated bibliography and documented their individual learning in artist’s and researcher’s statements. They worked with guest artist Rick Burkhardt to hone their performances, which they then presented to the program in the final week of winter quarter.
The reading, viewing, and listening list included: selections from The Essential Galileo (ed., trans. Finocchiaro), Galileo: A Very Short Introduction (Drake); selections from Relativity, The Special and General Theory (Einstein); selections from Quantum: Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality (Kumar); The Tempest (Shakespeare); Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (Shakespeare); Life of Galileo (Brecht); Arcadia (Stoppard); “They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing (Graff & Birkenstein); A Number (Churchill); Oxygen (Djerassi and Hoffman); Copenhagen (Frayn);The Tempest (dir. Jarman); Hamlet (dir. Almereyda); Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (dir. Tom Stoppard); Galileo (dir: Losey); Copenhagen (dir. Davies); movements from Symphony #5 (Beethoven); excerpts from Pierre Lunaire (Schoenberg); movements from Symphony #40 (Mozart); movements from Piano Trio in G Major (Beethoven); selections from Einstein on the Beach (Glass).