Dr Jean-Baptiste Gouyon
Dept of Science & Technology Studies
Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences
- Joined UCL
- 6th Jan 2014
Jean-Baptiste Gouyon is the author of BBC Wildlife Documentaries in the Age of Attenborough, published in 2019 (Palgrave). The book traces the history of wildlife television in Britain from the beginnings of TV in 1936 to the first decade of the 21st Century. It revolves around the figure of David Attenborough whose influence on wildlife broadcasting in Britain has been epoch-making, and looks at the relationship between wildlife television and the life sciences, mostly zoology and ethology. More broadly, Gouyon’s
research is in the history of the presentation of science in visual media. In addition to wildlife TV, he’s also published on the history of British science
television as well as on the history of the Science Museum.
rests mostly on the study of archival material (documents and films) as well as
on oral history interviews with television science producers past and present.
He notably produced a series of 17 oral history interviews with past producers
and editors of the BBC science series Horizon,
as part of his ongoing exploration of the history of this series.
research interests are in the study of science in public, the sociology and
history of the life sciences, the human animal relationship.
Gouyon's teaching is mostly about the theories and practices of science communication, with a focus on science journalism. But he also lectures on broader themes related to the sociology of science as well as methodological issues involved in conducting research on science communication and the sociology of science.
Modules taught in the academic year 2019-20:
NSCI0007 - science communication for natural sciences students
HPSC0107 - Science Journalism (level 6 course [UG])
HPSC0122 - Science Journalism (level 7 course [MSc])
- University College London
- , | 2016
- University of York
- , | 2010
- University of York
- , | 2009
- Universite Denis Diderot (Paris VII)
- , | 2000
- Universite de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines
- , | 1998
I was born in France in the mid-1970s and grew up between Normandy, Bordeaux and Paris. I first had a stint at Medical Studies but quickly found out that it was not for me. I then trained as a biologist, graduating just before the Human Genome project reached completion. After graduating, I turned to science journalism, working for three years as a trainee writer in popular science magazines for children, Science & Vie Junior and Science & Vie Decouvertes. At the same time I did a DEA (MA) in the epistemology and history of science and technology, under the supervision of Jean Gayon (1949-2018), at the University of Paris 7.
All this came to a momentary stop as I had to do my national service, for which I spent a year and a half living and working in Oslo (Norway), as deputy science and technology attache at the Embassy of France--which may sound grander than it really is. But since this stay I've kept a deep attachment to Norway.
Back in France I worked for three years mostly as a science journalist, with papers published in La Recherche, Science & Vie, Les Cahiers de Science & Vie. But eventually I got frustrated at constantly changing topics, with never a chance of going down the rabbit hole. So, encouraged by Jean Gayon, I started looking for PhD studentships in the UK. I eventually obtained one from the department of Sociology at the University of York. After four lovely years there, supervised by Dr Amanda Rees, I spent two years and half in Berlin, on the back of a one year post-doctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, in Lorraine Daston's department.
Living in Berlin was fun. I remember fondly walking in the woods, around the lakes, and in the colony gardens. But eventually, I got back to Britain, as a research fellow at the Science Museum in London, working with Tim Boon on a great project comparing displays of science at the museum with television science programmes, funded by the AHRC. After a short post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Kent, looking at the art-science relationship as part of Charlotte Sleigh's project ChainReaction! to mark the 30th anniversary of the PCR machine, I began teaching at UCL's department of Science and Technology Studies, which quickly felt like finally reaching home.