I was three weeks deep into a presentation on the split between the now Roman Catholic Church and The Eastern Orthodox Church when my professor informed me that one of my primary sources was, in fact, an Orthodox apologist and therefore good for insight but not fact. Every Holiday visit to my grandparent’s house includes FOX news blaring in the background. Even news pieces from sources I generally agree with, even when we are seeing eye-to-eye on an issue, make me want to scream because their opinions are so obnoxiously obvious in their attempts to quash all possible opposition. I feel like I can’t make my mind up about anything if both sides are going to scream totally opposite positions and information at me about the same thing. Do I support Palestine? Is Planned Parenthood butchering babies? Do all lives matter? What about Hillary Clinton’s emails? God, I don’t know.
You’d think history wouldn’t fall prey to these same pitfalls- at least, you’d hope. One of the primary purposes from history is to learn our mistakes so as to not make them again. We have to look at the bad, in its full ugliness, even when we don’t want to- see how and why it happened and attempt to safeguard against it.
I had one of those “weird” childhoods without a television. Or computer, or video games, or really anything that embraced either technology or that there were kids in the house. But we did have a 1968 collection of World Book Encyclopedias, with their ponderous matching dictionaries: two tomes, gray-and-green covers gilded in gold with little crescents carved into the pages to demarcate each letter of the alphabet (Volume I- A through K- had a broken spine). I remember gingerly turning each tissue thin page, three columns per page, with tiny, tiny print. Continue reading “Interdisciplinary Archives”
(When I began to think of blending literature and science, this refused to stray from my mind. Pretend you haven’t seen this movie and scene a million times.)
“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could that they didn’t stop to think whether they should.” Obviously applicable to the scientific revival of dinosaurs, this classic line is more recently used to denounce food monstrosities like the caramel apple oreo and KFC doubledown sandwiches (look them up. Definitely an abuse of science.)
But what about real issues that face this concern? That the powers of science may be flourishing far more quickly than the grip of ethics can take hold? We reach farther and more rapaciously each day. It was only in 1981 that the first embryonic stem cells were isolated in an experiment from mice, and now we can use them to research and cure a multitude of diseases and injury.The genetic importance of DNA was only discovered in 1953 and already we have learned to clone an entire being. And perhaps the most powerful, terrifying scientific discovery to date: in the 1930’s scientists began theoretically discussing nuclear fission. And in 1945, we tested Trinity, the first nuclear device that was by far the most devastating and powerful weapon ever seen before.
These, of course, are examples of the most polarizing scientific advancements. While the first two have become more accepted over time (duly so, in my opinion), all large leaps in science have been approached with fear and apprehension. Is this something that is morally okay to do? Is this “natural”? What are the possible consequences? And where will it lead? These are important questions that the scientific method doesn’t account for. All the empirical data in the world cannot give these answers. These questions and those like them can be used as a fear mongering tactic, but open minded, rational and respectful discussions of these concerns are necessary. Furthermore, despite the insistence of many that these kind of questions impede scientific advancement, I would argue that they enhance it. And it is English that teaches us to ask these questions. Continue reading “How Interdisciplinarity Prevents Dinosaurs (sort of)”
I remember the day my mother stood with her back to me at the kitchen sink and explained to me why an English major was useless.
Choosing to go to community college over several other more prestigious and exciting colleges (including Geneseo) was a decision my mother had praised as practical and economical. But a degree in English? Continue reading ““Something Good in Itself””