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The Educated Eye

Visual Culture and Pedagogy in the Life Sciences

Nancy Anderson, Michael R. Dietrich

Publication Year: 2012

A study of visual culture in the teaching of the life sciences The creation and processing of visual representations in the life sciences is a critical but often overlooked aspect of scientific pedagogy. The Educated Eye follows the nineteenth-century embrace of the visible in new spectatoria, or demonstration halls, through the twentieth-century cinematic explorations of microscopic realms and simulations of surgery in virtual reality. With essays on Doc Edgerton’s stroboscopic techniques that froze time and Eames’s visualization of scale in Powers of Ten, among others, contributors ask how we are taught to see the unseen.

Published by: Dartmouth College Press


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pp. c-ii

Series Page, Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

The Educated Eye: Visual Culture and Pedagogy in the Life Sciences arose from the 2006 Dartmouth College Humanities Institute on Visual Culture and Pedagogy in the Life Sciences. Many of the contributors to this volume were participants in the Institute. Some presented their work at public lectures and others met weekly over the course of a term to develop and discuss the intersecting themes and individual contributions present...

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pp. 1-13

The late nineteenth century embraced what media theorist Jean-Louis Comolli described as a “frenzy of the visible,” in that by the 1880s the world seemed to become entirely visually accessible as a result of increased mobility combined with new visual media, such as advanced printing techniques, photography, and then cinema.1 The life sciences and medicine, one might say, participated in this frenzy with an astonishing increase in the...

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1 Trained Judgment, Intervention, and the Biological Gaze

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pp. 14-43

In an 1897 letter to the editor of Science, acidly titled “Literary Embryology,” Harvard biologist Charles Sedgwick Minot quoted at length from a piece in the Atlantic on the application of embryology to teacher training. The article’s author, Frederic Burk, had tried to demonstrate that “embryology throws some suggestive light upon the radical difference of childhood from maturity”—with embryos and children undergoing a tortuous...

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2 Facing Animals in the Laboratory

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pp. 44-67

In the course of the nineteenth century we see the rise of various biological fields of research, including physiology, microscopic anatomy, histology, and as the cell theory gains momentum in the last decades of the century, cytology. In assessing this moment when such areas of study emerged as bonafide disciplines, gathering all the resources of such a status (university departments, professional societies, professional journals...

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3 Photography and Medical Observation

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pp. 68-93

In his 1865 landmark book on experiment in the medical sciences, French physiologist Claude Bernard writes,

Observers, we said, purely and simply note the phenomena before their eyes. They must be anxious only to forearm themselves against errors of observation which might make them incompletely see or poorly define a phenomenon. To this end they use every instrument, which may help make...

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4 Cinematography without Film

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pp. 94-120

Johann Nepomuk Czermak was obviously satisfied, probably even proud: “In order to give an idea of the viewability of this surprising demonstration, I only mention that the diameter of the silhouette of the still-beating heart appearing on the wall was about two meters.” On December 21, 1872, the physiologist had inaugurated his “Private Laboratory at the University of Leipzig.” The climax of the ceremony was the extremely enlarged projection...

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5 Cinema as Universal Language of Health Education

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pp. 121-140

In 1909, John D. Rockefeller dedicated a small fortune from his Standard Oil Company profits to the establishment of a new philanthropic entity, the Rockefeller Foundation, whose mandate was “to promote the well-being and to advance the civilization of the peoples of the United States and its territories and possessions and of foreign lands in the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge, in the prevention and relief of suffering...

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6 Screening Science

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pp. 141-161

In “Give Me a Laboratory and I will Raise the World,” Bruno Latour asks, “If nothing scientific is happening in laboratories, why are there laboratories to begin with and why, strangely enough, is the society surrounding them paying for these places where nothing special is produced?”1 Latour drew this rather startling question from his early anthropology of laboratory life, a study that helped launch a wave of science studies, which...

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7 Optical Constancy, Discontinuity, and Nondiscontinuity in the Eameses’ "Rough Sketch"

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pp. 162-185

The Eames Office builds models. Charles Eames says, “In practice, we think of ourselves as tradesmen.” The historian of science Owen Gingrich writes that craftsmen staff the Eames Office.1 The Eames Office and its principle partners, the husband and wife team of Charles and Ray Eames, are best known as furniture designers. From the 1940s until the 1980s, the office produced a steady stream of modern iconic furnishings...

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8 Educating the High-Speed Eye

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pp. 186-212

By 1932, a young MIT electrical engineer, Harold E. Edgerton, had developed a portable, inexpensive light source, capable of generating flashes of extremely short durations, approaching one microsecond (one-millionth of a second) at regular intervals of up to several thousand pulses per second. Unlike earlier spark sources that could produce only a single flash at a weak intensity, requiring their use in a dark room, Edgerton’s flashes...

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9 On Fate and Specification

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pp. 213-234

Studies of the history of biology and, in particular, of the field of embryonic development ponder many and diverse issues that either focus on the developmental history of a model organism, an innovative experimental method, or how evolutionary issues are connected to ontogenesis. When investigating the processes and mechanisms shaping an embryo, biological scientists produce images and decipher them with the standards that are...

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10 Form and Function

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pp. 235-254

The explosive growth of the life sciences in the twentieth century poses significant pedagogical challenges for college-level education in biology. Life science majors must learn basic concepts from domains as diverse as biochemistry and biogeography. Majors are usually required to take one or more introductory-level courses that each covers a very broad domain, as preparation for more advanced courses, which focus on subfields or topics....

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11 Neuroimages, Pedagogy, and Society

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pp. 255-276

Many lament that the United States is losing its edge in science and technology. A 2007 study reported that 52 percent of Americans believe that the United States is not performing well in math and science relative to other countries, and 64 percent think that the average American is not scientifically well informed.1 These popular views are bolstered by data from recent studies. The National Science Board’s 2006 Science and Engineering...

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12 The Anatomy of a Surgical Simulation

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pp. 277-310

Surgical learning traditionally has included intensive and structured training of a surgical resident’s skills of seeing, interpreting, and intervening manually in a patient’s body. Residents now receive most of their training in the operating room, working on actual patients under the close supervision of an attending surgeon. In the last decade, however, changes in hospital economics have squeezed operating room time. Medical students...


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pp. 311-314


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pp. 315-318

E-ISBN-13: 9781611682120
E-ISBN-10: 1611682126
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611680430
Print-ISBN-10: 1611680433

Page Count: 328
Illustrations: 32 illus.
Publication Year: 2012