Wednesday, 9:00-12:00
Hagey Hall 357

Hagey Hall 247, x5362
Hours: Wednesdays, 1:00-3:30; Thursdays 1:00-2:20
Home phone (Milton): (905) 876-3972

course epitome

We will study the how and why of scientific suasions, with two aimsin mind: firstly, to familiarize you with the issues and literature of rhetorical approaches to science; and, therefore, secondly, to enable you to participate in that literature. 

Evaluation will depend on two components: participation in discussions and a paper of publishable length and quality. The paper will be either a rhetorical analysis of some scientific discourse (in a specific paper, or book, or episode), or a theoretical contribution to the discourse of rhetoricians of science. Collaborations are encouraged, but only with prior approval.

job description
Class Participation 50%
Paper (due 10 August) 50%


Please keep in mind that this is a seminar: you are expected to take an active role in the course. I will use a merit/demerit policy to evaluate your participation. Merit will be awarded primarily on the quality of participation: asking relevant questions; making relevant observations; complementing or developing someone else's contribution; and generally being a constructive member of the class. Quantity of participation is a positive factor to the extent that lots of quality contributions are preferable to a few quality contributions. Demerit will be assessed reluctantly, and only on the basis of repeated instances. The grounds for the demerit system are: absenteeism (you can't participate if you're not there); whispering or chatting while other people are talking; or making lengthy, unfocused comments that draw away from the general thread of discussion. You will also get credit for completion of small regular assignments (mostly 1p position papers), according to the following scheme:

25 % of your participation mark will come from your active engagement with the issues in the class.

25 % of your participation mark will come from your completion of regular assignments (which will no be graded: you will get 25% for doing them all, 20% if you miss one, 0% if you miss more than one; I'm not kidding). 


The 12 July class will be given over to presentations and responses about paper proposals: You will need to have a firm idea in mind about what you will write on, and you will present it to the class. You will also need to write up that proposal, submitting one copy to me, one to a respondent (I will work up an exchange list the week of 5 July). The respondent will comment on the proposal, offering criticisms and suggestions.

The 19 July class will be given over to progress reports and further discussion of the essays.

Your paper should be an original contribution to the rhetoric-of-science literature: write it with the intent to publish, and when you submit it to me include a memo indicating which journal you think it best suits (and why). I will not accept it otherwise. I'm not kidding.


Gee, In search of deep time 
Harris, Landmark essays in rhetoric of science: case studies
Montgomery, The scientific voice
Myers, Writing biology
Wright, The moral animal

No late assignments will be accepted, no extensions will be granted, and no incompletes will be awarded, without very strong reasons.





 3 May

 Hello; how are you?

 10 May

 Rhetoric of science

 Landmarks: Introduction
Scientific voice: Preface
Writing biology: Preface, Chapter 1

 Position paper: 1p

 17 May

Moral animal

 Moral animal
Writing biology:
Chapter 6

 Book report: 3pp

 24 May

 Deep time

  Deep time

Book review: 3pp

 31 May

 The scientific voice  

 Scientific voice: Chapters 1 & 2

 Position paper: 1p

 7 June

 Scientific voice: Chapters 3, 4 & 5

 Position paper: 1p

 14 June

 Rhetors of science

 Landmarks: "Giants"

 Position paper: 1p

 21 June

 Assent and dissent

 Landmarks: "Conflict ..."
Writing biology: Chapters 4 & 6

 Position paper: 1p

 28 June

 Public science

 Landmarks: "Public ..."

 Position paper: 1p

 5 July

 Writing in science

 Landmarks: Chapter 10
Writing biology: Chapters 2 & 3

 Position paper: 1p

 12 July

 Essay proposals: presentations, responses, discussion

Essay proposal
Due 10 July

 19 July

 Progress reports, discussion.

 26 July

 So long and thanks for all the fish

 10 August

 Essay due