Bertolt Brecht's "Life of Galileo" - VCE 2013 Life Galileo

Strategy: Before, During and After

There are many approaches you can take to reading and experiencing a text, whether it be a play, a novel, film or any other formal communication that requires study in order to understand "how it means, what it means" and "what does it mean to me?"

One of the simplest approaches requires you to do something before you read, as you read and after you have read – before during and after. "Before" alludes to what you do before you read, and might be called "pre-reading"; "During" alludes to what you do as you read and involves "close reading"; and, "After" alludes to how you re-organize, rethink and analyze what you have read come to some conclusion. Reading is not simply a memory exercise, but an act of making personal meaning, with each stage in this simple process helping to build your interaction, knowledge and understanding of the text.

BEFORE (Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? - 5Ws + H)   

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Anticipation : Popular CultureEssential Questions  : Monologue from the Play : Key Vocabulary and Concepts Pre-Tests: Historical Narrative and Dramatic Plot : Scavenger Hunt

Anticipation: What Would You do?Galileo Thinking

Give your response to the following questions all based on similar contexts that Galileo experiences in the play. Put yourself in this situation - how would you respond?

  1. You come across a list of questions for the up-coming SAC on Bertolt Brecht's "Life of Galileo" written by your teacher. You read them, but you know that you should not. Nobody else is around. The SAC is in two days. What do you do and why?

  2. You are a teacher in a religious school who is an agnostic and become involved in a difficult issue between yourself and another teacher, over whether you should teach the theory of evolution from a scientific standpoint or from a creationist standpoint. You are asked to justify your scientific position on evolution before the Principal or lose your job. What would you do?

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References within Popular Culture to GalileoGalileo in Popular Culture

As with all events and people, popular culture can distort and trivialize the historical, so view any video or popularizations with an open mind and decide for yourself the relative

truth and authority of the illustration! Brecht's "Galileo" is after all a distortion; a distortion with educationalintent and one that you will further distort to process your own understanding of Brecht's intent.

YouTube Videos: Visualization?

Songs: Interpretation

Indigo Girls: "Galileo" Songwriter: EMILY ANN SALIERS  (1992: Lyrics

Lyrics: Indigo Girls: "Galileo"Galileo - Indigo Girls (1992)

Galileo's head was on the block
The crime was looking up for truth
And as the bombshells of my daily fears explode
I try to trace them to my youth

And then you had to bring up reincarnation
Over a couple of beers the other night
And now I'm serving time for mistakes
Made by another in another lifetime

How long till my soul gets it right
Can any human being ever reach that kind of light
I call on the resting soul of Galileo
King of night vision, king of insight

And then I think about my fear of motion
Which I never could explain
Some other fool across the ocean years ago
Must have crashed his little airplane

How long till my soul gets it right
Can any human being ever reach that kind of light
I call on the resting soul of Galileo
King of night vision, king of insight

I'm not making a joke, you know me
I take everything so seriously
If we wait for the time till all souls get it right
Then at least I know there'll be no nuclear annihilation
In my lifetime I'm still not right

I offer thanks to those before me
That's all I've got to say
'Cause maybe you squandered big bucks in your lifetime
Now I have to pay
But then again it feels like some sort of inspiration
To let the next life off the hook
But she'll say "look what I had to overcome from my last life
I think I'll write a book"

How long till my soul gets it right
Can any human being ever reach the highest light
Except for Galileo God rest his soul
(Except for the resting soul of Galileo)
King of night vision, king of insight

How long
(Till my soul gets it right)
[Til we reach the highest light]
How long
(Till my soul gets it right)
[Til we reach the highest light]
How long

Poetry: ALFRED NOYES "Galileo"Alfred Noyes - Galileo - Watchers of the Sky (1917)

So why Galileo? How does Galileo still  feature after almost 400 years? Why should he be important to you?

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A Coat-hanger for the MindEssential Question - Building an anticipatory scaffolding - A Coat-hanger for Your Mind:

Bertolt Brecht's Perspective on HistoryBertolt Brecht's - A Worker Reads History

A Worker Reads History (1936)
Bertolt Brecht (1898 – 1956)

Who built the seven gates of Thebes?
The books are filled with names of kings.
Was it kings who hauled the craggy blocks of stone?
And Babylon, so many times destroyed,
Who built the city up each time? In which of Lima’s houses, 5
That city glittering with gold, lived those who built it?
In the evening when the Chinese wall was finished
Where did the masons go? Imperial Rome
Is full of arcs of triumph. Who reared them up? Over whom
Did the Caesars triumph? Byzantium lives in song, 10
Were all her dwellings palaces? And even in Atlantis of the legend
The night the sea rushed in,
The drowning men still bellowed for their slaves.

Young Alexander conquered India.
He alone? 15
Caesar beat the Gauls.
Was there not even a cook in his army?
Philip of Spain wept as his fleet
Was sunk and destroyed. Were there no other tears?
Frederick the Great triumphed in the Seven Years War. Who 20
Triumphed with him?

Each page a victory,
At whose expense the victory ball?
Every ten years a great man,
Who paid the piper? 25

So many particulars.
So many questions.

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Monologue from Bertolt Brecht's Play "Life of Galileo"The Life of Galileo

Read the following extract from the play, a speech by Galileo.

GALILEO (in lecture style, bands folded over his paunch) In my free time, and I've got plenty of that, I have reviewed my case and asked myself how the world of science, of which I no longer consider myself a member, will judge it. Even a wool merchant, in addition to buying cheap and selling dear, has to worry about the obstacles that may be put in the way of the wool trade itself. In this sense, the pursuit of science seems to call for special courage.

Science trades in knowledge distilled from doubt. Providing everybody with knowledge of everything, science aims at making doubters of everybody. But princes, landlords and priests keep the majority of the people in a pearly haze of superstition and outworn words to cover up their own machinations. The misery of the many is as old as the hills and is proclaimed in church and lecture hall to be as indestructible as the hills. Our new art of doubting delighted the common people. They grabbed the telescope out of our hands and focused it on their tormentors—princes, landlords, priests. Those self-seeking violent men greedily exploited the fruits of science for their own ends but at the same time they felt the cold stare of science focused upon the millennial, yet artificial miseries which mankind could obviously get rid of by getting rid of them. They showered us with threats and bribes, which weak souls cannot resist. But can we turn our backs on the people and still remain scientists? The movements of the heavenly bodies have become more comprehensible; but the movements of their rulers remain unpredictable to the people. The battle to measure the sky was won by doubt; but credulity still prevents the Roman housewife from winning her battle for milk.

Science, Sarti, is involved in both battles. If mankind goes on stumbling in a pearly haze of superstition and outworn words and remains too ignorant to make full use of its own strength, it will never be able to use the forces of nature which science has discovered. What end are you scientists working for? To my mind, the only purpose of science is to lighten the toil of human existence. If scientists, browbeaten by selfish rulers, confine themselves to the accumulation of knowledge for the sake of knowledge, science will be crippled and your new machines will only mean new hardships. Given time, you may well discover everything there is to discover, but your progress will be a progression away from humanity. The gulf between you and humanity may one day be so wide that the response to your exultation about some new achievement will be a universal outcry of horror.

As a scientist, I had a unique opportunity. In my time astronomy reached the market place. Under these very special circumstances, one man's steadfastness might have had tremendous repercussions. If I had held out, scientists might have developed something like the physicians' Hippocratic oath, the vow to use their knowledge only for the good of mankind. As things stand now, the best we can hope for is a generation of inventive dwarfs who can be hired for any purpose. Furthermore, I have come to the conclusion, Sarti, that I was never in any real danger. For a few years I was as strong as the authorities. And yet I handed the powerful my knowledge to use, or not to use, or to misuse as served their purposes. (Virginia has come in with a dish and stops now) I have betrayed my calling. A man who does what I have done, cannot be tolerated in the ranks of science.

What does this suggest about "him" and "his" character?

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Brecht's The Life of Galileo: Key Vocabulary and ConceptsGalileo's "Discorsi"

religious dogmatism
scientific truth
ethical responsibility
scientific morality
secular truth
intellectual autonomy
technological determinism
Epic Theatre
alienation effect
religious faith

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The Life of Galileo - Pre-Test: So You Think You Know?Galileo - Italian Lire

Try these short self-assessment tests to see how much you know about Galileo Galilei and Brecht's "Life of Galileo". Start building your vocabulary as well as beginning to develop some of your own essential questions about the text that you are about to study, not just about "Galileo" but about what you intuit about his life as it relates to yours.

(1) The Historical Galileo Galilei - Biography - How much to you know?
(2) Bertolt Brecht's "Life of Galileo" - Plot Summary - How much to you know?

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Galileo Galilei Scavenger Hunt - Select the .... to find the answer.NASA - Galileo

1. Galileo Galilei was born on (1) .... near Pisa, the son of a musician. He began to study(2) .... at the University of Pisa but changed to philosophy and .....

2. In 1589, he became professor of (3) .... at Pisa. In 1592, he moved to become mathematics professor at the University of Padua, a position he held until 1610. During this time he worked on a variety of experiments, including the speed at which different objects fall, mechanics and pendulums.

3. In 1609, Galileo heard about the invention of the (4) .... in Holland. Without having seen an example, he constructed a superior version and made many (5) .... discoveries. These included mountains and valleys on the surface of the (6) .... , sunspots, the four largest moons of the planet (7) .... and the phases of the planet Venus.

4. His work on astronomy made him famous and he was appointed court mathematician in (8) .....

5. In 1614, Galileo was accused of (9) .... for his support of the Copernican theory that the sun was at the centre of the solar system. This was revolutionary at a time when most people believed the Earth was in this central position. In 1616, he was forbidden by the church from teaching or advocating these theories.

5. In 1632, he was again condemned for heresy after his book 'Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems' was published. This set out the arguments for and against the .... theory in the form of a discussion between two men. Galileo was summoned to appear before the (10) .... in Rome. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, later reduced to permanent house arrest at his villa in (11) .... , south of Florence. He was also forced to publicly withdraw his support for Copernican theory.

6. Although he was now going (12) .... he continued to write. In 1638, his (13) '.....' was published with Galileo's ideas on the laws of motion and the principles of mechanics.

7. Galileo died in Arcetri on (14) .... .

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