'Other from an Other Other': Eric Baack and Andy Hageman present Paideia lecture on human-alien encounters

Eric Baack, Luther College assistant professor of biology, and Andy Hageman, Luther assistant professor of English, will present the Paideia Text and Issues lecture titled "Other from an Other Other: Science and Fiction in Human-Alien Encounters" at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, in the Center for Faith and Life Recital Hall on the Luther Campus.

The lecture is open to the public with no charge for admission.

"Other from an Other Other" will use popular science fiction texts about encounters between humans and aliens as a basis for discussion on what these texts say about society as a whole from both a scientific and literary standpoint.

Within the science fiction genre, aliens have been presented in a multitude of different forms, and their relationships with humans have been just as varied. Baack and Hageman's lecture will focus particularly on texts in which humans and aliens are allowed to study and learn from each other, commenting on how these provide material for thinking about new ways of exploring and knowing.

The lecture will also discuss how human-alien encounters are often used to represent both the idea of us and others within human society. For example, aliens can be used to represent either the current public enemy or the disenfranchised within society. How the scientists, government officials and the public treat the aliens they encounter in the texts can be used to track changing attitudes about "the other."

In its analysis of major science fiction stories such as "Star Trek," "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and "Avatar," the lecture will present a dialogue between a professional biologist and a professional literature and film scholar. Together, Baack and Hageman will discuss how these texts have shaped and been shaped by popular attitudes of scientific developments and questions about what it means to be human.

Baack's courses include principles of biology, biological statistics, evolutionary biology and the ecology of the Southwest.  His research in plant evolution examines how species originate, hybridization between species, and the evolution of crops and their wild relatives. 

Baack holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Carleton College, a master's degree in secondary science education from Lewis and Clark College and a doctoral degree in population biology from the University of California-Davis.

Hageman teaches courses in American literature, the American novel, EcoMedia and film. He researches techno-cultural history with an eye toward intersections of technology and ecology. Hageman has published essays on topics ranging from Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" and David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive," to Chinese cinema and "Wall-E." He is currently co-editing a book called "Commodity Futurities: Science Fiction and the Materials of Speculation."

Hageman holds a bachelor's degree from St. Olaf College, a master's degree from Western Washington University and a doctoral degree from the University of California-Davis.

Eric Baack, assistant professor of biology
Andy Hageman, assistant professor of English