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9781421423043
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From Madman to Crime Fighter

The Scientist in Western Culture

They were mad, of course. Or evil. Or godless, amoral, arrogant, impersonal, and inhuman. At best, they were well intentioned but blind to the dangers of forces they barely controlled. They were Faust and Frankenstein, Jekyll and Moreau, Caligari and Strangelove—the scientists of film and fiction, cultural archetypes that reflected ancient fears of tampering with the unknown or unleashing the little-understood powers of nature.

In From Madman to Crime Fighter, Roslynn D. Haynes analyzes stereotypical characters—including the mad scientist, the cold-blooded pursuer of knowledge, the intrepid pathbreaker, and the bumbling fool—that, from medieval times to the present day, have been used to depict the scientist in Western literature and film. She also describes more realistically drawn scientists, characters who are conscious of their public responsibility to expose dangers from pollution and climate change yet fearful of being accused of lacking evidence.

Drawing on examples from Britain, America, Germany, France, Russia, and elsewhere, Haynes explores the persistent folklore of mad doctors of science and its relation to popular fears of a depersonalized, male-dominated, and socially irresponsible pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. She concludes that today’s public response to science and scientists—much of it negative—is best understood by recognizing the importance of such cultural archetypes and their significance as myth. From Madman to Crime Fighter is the most comprehensive study of the image of the scientist in Western literature and film.

About the Author

As well as having a background in science, Roslynn D. Haynes is an adjunct associate professor in the School of the Arts and Media at the University of New South Wales and an honorary associate of the University of Tasmania. She is the author of seven books, including H. G. Wells, Discoverer of the Future: The Influence of Science on His Thought and Desert: Nature and Culture.

Reviews

"Her approach is to correlate developments in science and technology over the following seven centuries with descriptions of how scientists have been portrayed in contemporaneous literature, and more recently in fascinating read."

- Times Higher Education

"This is a wonderful book, both in the sense of being a pleasure to read and being full of wonders."

- SAGE Blog

"In this update, Haynes has extended her purview to accommodate the growth in scholarship on science and popular culture, especially in the area of film, which has occurred in the twenty years since the publication of the first edition... Anyone wishing to design a course on science or the scientist (however he or she may define these terms) in literature, cinema or popular culture, set either in a single era or over a span of time, could easily get away with using this new volume as a one-stop shopping catalogue for primary sources."

- Neeraja Sankaran, Independent Scholar - British Society for Literature and Science
Johns Hopkins University Press
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9781421423043 : from-madman-to-crime-fighter-haynes
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