Scientific German--Writing Assignments for the Semester

Invent an identity. There is only one restriction: you are a scientist. You can choose a real present or historical scientist and invent parts of his/her biography, or you can just "create" a personality from scratch. If you want to be a mad or corrupt scientist, be it. If you want to switch gender on yourself, fine. Any age, nationality, ethnicity. All fields of scientific or quasi-scientific inquiry are open to you: astronomy, biology, physics, psychology, medical research, etc., as well as astrology, numerology, alchemy, etc. Choose a century -- 20th will probably be easiest. If you want to be a 13th century alchemist trying to make gold, thatís okay, too, but take a good look at how the assignments are worded below and think about how you will be able to make this person interact meaningfully with contemporary scientific texts. Make yourself a complex, dramatic, and possibly disturbing person. Be dangerous or saintly or very, very strange.

Acquire odd and intriguing habits. Then write a kind of biography over the course of the semester. This compilation should include

--a 350-word autobiography [=Autobiographie], including a description of your research interests, a detailed description of your looks, including the way you dress and carry yourself, and perhaps a sketch of your childhood, including formative experiences ("the moment I realized that insects were my future.Ö")

--one letter (500 words) to a colleague or friend that reveals your chosen personality. Roughly half of the letter should be devoted to a discussion of one or more German scientific articles you have read either in class or on the web or elsewhere: you should say what it was you read and how it is relevant to your work

--an abstract [=Abriss] (250 words) of a scientific publication youíve authored OR a review [=Rezension] of a scientific article you have read in class or on the web or elsewhere

--another letter (500 words) as above

--short hand-written journal entries reflecting your responses to some scientific texts we read in class and some you read on your own [these will be informal and go into the homework grade]

Note: 1. Please give a word count for your essays (in Microsoft Word, you just need to select "Word Count" from the "Tools" menu to do this).

2. The letter and abstract assignments ask you to devote part of your essay to discussing the relevance to your work of one or more German scientific articles you have read either in class or on the web or elsewhere. When you do this, you should use your own words as much as possible, and use quotation marks when you don't. Also, you should write about different articles for each essay!