Cornell scholar to present Horning lecture on science, TV


CORVALLIS - Bruce Lewenstein, an expert in the melding of science and popular culture, will deliver a Horning Lecture at Oregon State University on Thursday, Feb. 20.

His lecture, "Science as Drama: Bestselling Science Books and Blockbuster TV," will begin at 4 p.m. in The Valley Library's Autzen Classrom (Room 2082). It is free and open to the public.

In his lecture, Lewenstein will examine the ways that best-selling science books in the post-World War II era have contributed to culture. These works, including Jacque Cousteau's "Silent World" (1953) and Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" (1980), provided forums for intellectual debates, served as tools for recruiting students into science, triggered public discussion, and provided touchstones of "culture scientifique."

Some of the bestsellers were tied to films or television series, providing an opportunity to compare the cultural contributions of books and other media through which science becomes a part of culture.

Lewenstein is the fifth lecturer in the Horning Lecture Series, "Writing About Science and Scientists: Genres of Fact and Fiction." The series is sponsored by the Thomas Hart and Mary Jones Horning Endowment in the Humanities at OSU.

Lewenstein is an associate professor of communication and of science and technology studies at Cornell. A graduate of the University of Chicago, he went on to get a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied history, the sociology of science, and science and technology policy.

He is the editor of a quarterly journal called Public Understanding of Science, published in London, England.