2019-2020

A Cultural History of the Cosmos: Depictions of the Universe in Literature, Science Fiction, and Poetry

Astronomy/History/Anthropology/Literature/Poetry

Joanne Baker is a British writer, journalist and editor who would like help with researching and writing an extensive book on how humans relate to the cosmos. This book will try to unpick how the stars and planets have guided human history and thought around the world over centuries, as our knowledge of the heavens has progressed. It ranges from exploring our yearning for the moon to projections of human utopias and dystopias on other planets, to imaginary landscapes like black holes as well as concepts like “cosmic inflation” and the birth and death of the universe.

Joanne would like help with searching the literary archives, from novels to science fiction and poetry, for examples and quotes to establish how others have written about the feelings and ideas the universe evokes. Some exposure to and an interest in global literature, poetry, and science fiction as well as astronomy, science, and nature writing would be helpful. The ideal student would be curious, imaginative, creative, and proactive. They would enjoy delving enthusiastically into the library racks to see what they can unearth and using the material to help develop an original story. In return, as well as benefiting intellectually from the research and discussions, the student would see how a nonfiction book is written and gain advice on writing and publishing.