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Strangers in Togetherville – Women, Physics and Popular Culture

Authors
  • Oramus, Dominika
Type
Published Article
Journal
Prague Journal of English Studies
Publisher
Walter de Gruyter GmbH
Publication Date
Jul 01, 2020
Volume
9
Issue
1
Pages
133–153
Identifiers
DOI: 10.2478/pjes-2020-0007
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

By drawing on Jean Baudrillard’s cultural theory this paper aims to show how contemporary popular culture tells the stories of scientifically talented women of the past. In the course of my argument, I refer to books and films set in the past and focus on the women-and-science motif. Firstly, the stories of individual female scientists living long ago are analysed (Mileva Einstein, Joan Clarke), then, the collective female protagonists – wives of scientists living together in “togethervilles” (Los Alamos, Atomic City), and women scientists pictured in speculative fiction – are discussed. The cliches used in these texts – lonely forgotten geniuses, female worthies taken advantage of, ostracised women accused of not being feminine enough and devoted wives who help their men and their countries in World Wars I and II or the Cold War – reflect ideologies that Western culture used to believe in. Conversely, the two original presentations of past female scientists that I found both come from speculative fiction concerned with science and heavily influenced by the ideologies of science: science and pacifism, science and a sense of guilt, and science as a weapon in the quest for democracy and freedom.

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