In this episode John and Elizabeth sit down with Brandeis string theorist Albion Lawrence to discuss cooperation versus solitary study across disciplines. They sink their teeth into the question, “Why do scientists seem to do collaboration and teamwork better than other kinds of scholars and academics?”
The conversation ranges from the merits of collective biography to the influence of place and geographic location in scientific collaboration to mountaineering traditions in the sciences. As a Recallable Book, Elizabeth champions The People of Puerto Rico, an experiment in ethnography of a nation (in this case under colonial rule) from 1956, including a chapter by Robert Manners, founding chair of the Brandeis Department of Anthropology. Albion sings the praises of a collective biography of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, A Message to Our Folks. But John stays true to his Victorianist roots by praising the contrasting images of the withered humanist Casaubon and the dashing young scientist Lydgate in George Eliot’s own take on collective biography, Middlemarch.
Discussed in this episode:
Richard Rhodes Making of the Atomic Bomb
Ann Finkbeiner, The Jasons: The Secret History of Science’s Postwar Elite
James Gleick, The Information
Jamie Cohen-Cole, The Open Mind
Julian Steward et al., The People of Puerto Rico
Paul Steinbeck, Message to Our Folks
Jenny Uglow, Lunar Men
George Eliot, Middlemarch
Listen to the episode here:
Episode transcript here
Coming Soon: Celebrity at RTB. In 2019’s final episode , Sharon Marcus sits down with JP to discuss her new book, The Drama of Celebrity. Sarah Bernhardt and mid-century Hollywood never felt so close to today’s YouTube and Instagram influencers.