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Shaping Science with Rhetoric

Shaping Science with Rhetoric

How do scientists persuade colleagues from diverse fields to cross the disciplinary divide, risking their careers in new interdisciplinary research programs? Why do some attempts to inspire such research win widespread acclaim and support, while others do not? In Shaping Science with Rhetoric, Leah Ceccarelli addresses such questions through close readings of three scientific monographs in their historical contexts—Theodosius Dobzhansky's Genetics and the Origin of Species (1937), which inspired the "modern synthesis" of evolutionary biology; Erwin Schrödinger's What Is Life? (1944), which catalyzed the field of molecular biology; and Edward O. Wilson's Consilience (1998), a so far not entirely successful attempt to unite the social and biological sciences. She examines the rhetorical strategies used in each book and evaluates which worked best, based on the reviews and scientific papers that followed in their wake. Ceccarelli's work will be important for anyone interested in how interdisciplinary fields are formed, from historians and rhetoricians of science to scientists themselves.

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Author
Publisher University of Chicago Press
Release Date
ISBN 0226099075
Pages 204 pages
Rating 4/5 (71 users)

As with Dobzhansky's use of metaphor, a crisscrossing of intellectual space directed the two audiences to think about their respective subjects in a way that promoted collaborative study. The rhetorical strategy of polysemy also ...

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