Fiction, science and the public

Image by Erik Berndt

This research theme investigates the intersections between fiction, science and the public, where 'fiction' includes fictional stories told through film, television, radio, theatre, novels, short stories, comics and computer games.

Since the time that Mary Shelley first published the story of the monster that plagued her dreams, many creatives have imagined worlds of scientific advancements.

From tremendous wars across galaxies to robots with feelings, the representation of science in fiction has the power to inspire or caution against the developments and technologies in the modern (and future) world.

Our research investigates: 

  • How does fiction influence public attitudes to scientists or science-related controversies?
  • How do people respond to the science they encounter in fiction?
  • How can fiction be used in the classroom to teach science?
  • How are the social, political, cultural or economic aspects of science represented through
  • fiction?
  • How can narrative structures increase a message’s persuasiveness or interest to particular
  • audiences?
  • How can we best read fiction as a public response to science or technology?

Relevant CPAS courses are:

Undergraduate

Postgraduate

Students also undertake research in this theme for undergraduate coursework, postgraduate coursework and higher degrees by research.

Contact theme convenor Dr Lindy Orthia for more information or click on the tabs below to find relevant people, projects, news and events.

Image by Erik Berndt.

Publications

Peer-reviewed publications only

See individual theme members' pages for non-peer-reviewed publications associated with this theme

Highlights

Secret science in The Simpsons

A collaborative study involving undergraduate students and researchers has revealed that science in our favourite TV shows often slips under the...

The impact of fiction on public perceptions of science

It's about a lot more than Star Trek
If there’s one place people who normally dislike science are guaranteed to encounter it, it’s in popular fiction. Films, television, plays, comics...

News

05
Mar
2016
A culture that is overtly anti-sexist can still implicitly associate science with masculinism, according to CPAS academic Lindy Orthia and anthropologist Rachel Morgain. In a new...
18
Aug
2015
CPAS Senior Lecturer Dr Lindy Orthia is one of the recipients of this round of Teaching Enhancement Grants, awarded by the ANU twice yearly to a few teachers to fund innovative...
13
Mar
2015
According to CPAS PhD candidate Rashel Li, watching television sitcom The Big Bang Theory can teach people about the nature of science. Her findings, based on her PhD research,...
05
Dec
2014
Entertainment theatre can be a very effective means of raising awareness of science issues, according to researchers at the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of...
22
May
2014
PhD student Chris McGillion describes the potential for participatory theatre as a means of communicating science in Timor-Leste in a paper pre-published online in May 2014. Co-...
11
Feb
2014
Popular television sitcom The Big Bang Theory has sparked interest in science among many of its regular viewers, according to research by CPAS PhD student Rashel Li. The research...
03
Jul
2013
CPAS lecturer Dr Lindy Orthia this week published her first edited volume, a book entitled Doctor Who and Race. The book comes in the 50th anniversary year of Doctor Who, which is...
28
Nov
2011
CPAS lecturer Dr Lindy Orthia has published a new paper in the journal Colloquy which analyses the discourses of environmental disaster in the science fiction television series...
06
Sep
2011
Six students from the 2010 cohort of undergraduate course SCOM2003 Science in Popular Fiction have published their research in the International Journal of Science Education Part...
08
Jul
2011
CPAS lecturer Dr Lindy Orthia has published a research paper in the journal Public Understanding of Science looking at 'mad scientist' characters in the science fiction television...

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