Final Public Oral Exam: Ingrid Mikulik Ockert

Final Public Oral Examination
Event date: 
May 22, 2018 - 1:00pm

The Scientific Storytellers: How Educators, Scientists, and Actors Televised Science


Erika Milam, adviser
Kevin Kruse
Janet Vertesi
Bruce Lewenstein, Cornell University


This dissertation explores the history of science television in the United States. My project is centered on the flows of knowledge between scientific storytellers of television: the scientists, television creators, and audience members who contributed to the development of the television genre. I examine five national programs (The John Hopkins Science Review, Watch Mr. Wizard, NOVA, 3-2-1 Contact, and Cosmos), which aired on American television sets between the late 1940s and late 1970s. This history charts science television from the early days of broadcasting to the end of the “network era.” Over thirty years, scientific storytellers produced a new form of discourse. Their distinct professional backgrounds, as actors, journalists, and scientists, affected the ways that they depicted science and scientists on screen. Early programs emphasized a technological understanding of science based around everyday experiences. Later, scientific programming focused on understanding the connections between political and social movements and science. Current events, advances in cinematography, and new pedagogical styles greatly affected the types of narratives told on television. The creation of science television series created an important space of dialogue for scientists and non-scientists.

A copy of the dissertation will be available for review two weeks before the exam in the History Graduate Student Lounge: 105 Dickinson Hall.

All are welcome and encouraged to attend.