Steven’s Science in Cinema: Contagion and Outbreak and the Science of Cinematic Disease


In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are interested in the films Contagion (2011), directed by Steven Soderbergh, and Outbreak (1995), directed by Wolfgang Petersen. Both movies represent either an outbreak or pandemic, much like the scenario we are going through right now. Contagion is obviously a pandemic scenario, so it is more similar than Outbreak to COVID-19. The film Outbreak, as the title indicates, depicts an outbreak scenario. 

As I am reviewing two movies, I will split this review up into two sections. For further clarification, I will still make note between the two movies as a cross-reference. I also want to note that most of the flaws in the movies were not intrinsically in the plot. Most of the flaws seemed to be in the actor’s presentation or mannerisms while in specific settings. 

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Meet the Bloggers: Jesse Drake

For our next entry of this new weekly series, we are introducing Jesse Drake. Drake is one of our new political bloggers under his title, There is Power in a Rant.

Jesse Drake
Jesse Drake

Jesse’s Bio:

Jesse is a senior English major with minors in political science and peace studies. He currently lives on campus but is originally from northeast Indiana. Jesse plans on staying in the Chicago area for his gap year before attending law school. Thanks to a combination of inspiring yet challenging English teachers and exposure to the culture of a small Rust Belt town, Jesse focuses his writing on working-class issues, political rhetoric, and inequality. He also enjoys craft beer and spicy food. 

Below is our Q&A with Jesse:

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Jesse’s There is Power in a Rant: Up by Your Bootstraps- Hillbilly Elegy and America’s Working Poor

J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, a #1 New York Times Bestseller


Between the years 1931 and 1939, 5 people were killed, several were arrested, and many went without pay and food during the Harlan County War. The war was a coal miners’ struggle to gain a democratic labor union in eastern Kentucky. Despite the collusion between coal companies and local law enforcement, this struggle ended in a victory for the coal miners. They formed a union, which resulted in better pay, better benefits, safer working conditions and vindication for those hurt or killed in the difficult battle. Harlan County is now a landmark in the history of worker’s rights, with books, film dramas and documentaries made based on the events. These events are also explored in the famous folk song Which Side Are You On? 

JD Vance, author of the memoir Hillbilly Elegy, had a family that lived about 50 miles from Harlan County, in Jackson, Kentucky. Vance believes such people are a bunch of self-inflicting tragic rednecks who need to overcome their own personal problems if they are going to be anything in life.

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Antonio’s The Rare Review: A Look at Sci-Fi/Drama-Corruption and Collusion at The Laundromat

The Laundromat

You may have noticed by now that I am a fan of Netflix. That is partially because a number of years ago I cut the cord and realized paying $100 a month for cable that I mostly scrolled through was futile. More often, though, I find that Netflix seems to have a knack for either finding or producing compelling original gems, both in standalone movies and series that can entertain us for years. One of their most recent films, The Laundromat, provides an entertaining and horrifying glimpse into the tangled web of financial scams that spans the globe. 

While the film often strikes a whimsical tone, it is an embellished and over the top version of events related to the very real Panama Papers scandal. In short, a law firm based in Panama, Mossack Fonseca, helped thousands of wealthy and questionable clients shelter money in offshore accounts and shell corporations. The intricate connections among individuals and dishonest businesses lead to a kind of domino effect that hit small businesses and individuals alike. 

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Steven’s Science In Cinema: Osmosis Jones (2001)

osmosis jones

Showing movies in class to replace a lecture has always been a student’s dream, and it never hurts for the teacher to show it if the movie is an educational one. In biology classrooms, in the twenty-first century the go-to movie for biology teachers has been Osmosis Jones (2001), directed by Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly,  and Tom Sito. I even remember watching this film at least three times throughout my whole education. It is a great, reminiscent and iconic movie. For me, this movie will always be closely intertwined with biology. Sadly, some of the biology in this film is inaccurate. However, there are plenty of times when a scientific concept is correctly used subtlety in this film.

The antagonist of this film is named “Thrax” which stems from the pathogen anthrax (Bacillus anthracis). Thrax is a pathogen that invades Frank, a medically ignorant human that acts as the setting for most of the movie as it takes place in his body.  The identity of the pathogen that Thrax is, was never identified. The two best theories are anthrax or scarlet fever, but both of these illnesses are bacterial and Thrax was identified to be a virus. The protagonist in this film is Osmosis Jones who is a white blood cell in Frank’s body and can be assumed to be a neutrophil. This is because neutrophils can circulate throughout most of the body and eliminate any foreign microbes at the site of infection, which is Osmosis Jones’ job throughout the film.

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Film Feature: Megan O’Brien reviews Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation

The Invitation 

**Warning: spoilers ahead**

Welcome to yet another dinner party from hell, which could very well be the tagline for Karyn Kusama’s 2015 film The Invitation.  This film is the definition of a slow burn because whenever you think something violent is about to happen, it pivots in a new direction.  However, this doesn’t mean it’s void of tension as it’s always there simmering beneath the surface.  Every sound from the clattering of wine glasses to the constant beeping of a car engine is articulated to the point where audiences are left waiting for a release that will never come (until the last 30 minutes of the film that is).

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Musings of a Future Librarian: The Truth We Hide–An Analysis of George David Clark’s poem, “Washing Your Feet”


Upon reading the title of George David Clark’s poem, “Washing Your Feet”  my mind involuntarily brought forth images of Pope Francis in thick white linens, bowing his head to kiss the soft skin on soaked feet. This motif of intimacy and purity captured in these reverent moments introduced by the title,  do not halt when we enter the poem, but rather continue into the first quatrain — in which the speaker addresses us stating, “Reader, they are dirty, you’ve come so far” ( L 1). The ambiguity presented via “dirty” and “far”  is explained later in this stanza, through the descriptions of the filth humanity tends to tread through, and via the reference to the sandals of Jesus, that carried him on his journey through life. However, before Clark provides us with these bouts of concrete images and biblical references, he suspends us in our own truth, asking us to consider where we have come from. Clark does this well by paralleling our sins to the smut we’ve sunk our feet in.

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