Fall Courses 2013

Objective Narratives: Portraits of Science through Material Culture and Photography

Anne McCants, Professor of History and MacVicar Faculty Fellow
Ellan Spero, Doctoral student in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society

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This course is designed to give students the tools for thinking and communicating about the material culture of scientific practice through a combination of written work and photographic practice. The goal is for students to use photography to support a more creative and conscious writing process by using its power both to observe and to communicate. Guests will include photographers Felice Frankel, Essdras Suarez, and Jan Kostecki. The course culminates in an exhibit open to the MIT community, curated by the students, featuring their own photographic work.

Objective Narratives is co-presented by the Center for Art, Science & Technology and MIT’s Concourse program, a Freshmen Learning Community dedicated to exploring fundamental questions that lie at the intersections of science, social science, and humanistic inquiry.



Felice Frankel is a science photographer and research scientist in the Center for Materials Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Working in collaboration with scientists and engineers, Felice’s award-winning images have been published in over 200 journal articles and various other prominent publications. She was founder of the Image and Meaning workshops and conferences, held around the country from 2001-2005, whose purpose was to develop new approaches to promote the public understanding of science through visual expression.

Essdras Suarez is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist based in Boston. He has taught at many institutions of higher education and conducted photography workshops in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ecuador, and Republic of Panama under the auspices of the Department of State. He has covered the Iraq war, Haiti conflict, Tsunami aftermath, and Gaza evacuation among other international news stories. Nationally he has covered stories like the Columbine shooting and space shuttle Columbia disaster. His assignments have taken him to over 30 countries all over the world.

Jan Kostecki works predominantly in the medium of digital photography, but continues to work with medium format cameras and black and white film. He has collaborated on numerous projects with Ellan F. Spero. He completed his Bachelors of Science in Bioengineering in 2004 from the University of California at Berkeley, followed by a Doctorate in Biomedical Engineering in 2009 from Cornell University. He currently lives in Altadena, California and is a Staff Scientist at the California Institute of Technology in the laboratory of Professor Stephen L. Mayo.

Image Credits
1. Felice Frankel. Courtesy of the artist.
2. Jan Kostecki. Courtesy of the artist.
3. Essdras Suarez. Photo: Cecille Avila.