CFP: Global Rhetorics of Science (Sept 1 Deadline)

CFP: Global Rhetorics of Science

“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”

– A. Einstein

The rhetoric of science (ROS) has made great strides in recent years in diversity, addressing citizen expertise (Wynn 2017) and critical issues such disability (Jack 2009, Johnson 2015), gender (Keränen 2010), race (Happe 2013, Condit 2016), and non-human agency (Johnson & Johnson 2018). But a glaring blind spot remains, covering the diversity of “science” itself. In other words, while rhetoricians are eager to challenge hegemonic assumptions about gender, race, class, and humanity, we lag behind philosophers and historians in challenging the hegemony of the Western style of inquiry into natural phenomena. And in an era when Western science is imbricated in crises in climate change, genetic modification, and artificial intelligence, among other areas—it makes sense to investigate alternatives for deliberating publicly about these exigent issues.

The proposed volume is the first volley in what will hopefully become a sustained campaign of engagement with global rhetorics of science (by which phrase I indicate rhetorics of natural philosophy and medicine as well). The volume will introduce a range of systems that many rhetoricians have never heard of—such as Australian Aboriginal and Polynesian ecologies, Arabic biology, Diné physics, Chinese medicine, Aztec-Mayan algorithmic calculation, and West African astronomy[1]; alongside these, it will cover one or more of the Continental European rhetorics of science that remain almost entirely untreated by ROS scholars—such as Renaissance German alchemical-botanical illustration.

About these systems, the volume will ask the same fundamental questions that were asked of Anglo-American science at the inception of ROS: How did the system help its users invent arguments about the world (or, invent the world itself)? What strategies, techniques, and media did its practitioners employ to persuade others of these arguments? And, most importantly for any rhetorical project—what kinds of communities, of humans and non-humans both, are created and sustained by these rhetorical practices? Answering these questions will not only expand our options for deliberating over scientific controversies, they will also help us reflect on our privileging of Western rhetorics—scientific and otherwise.

The volume prospectus has been requested by both Routledge and Ohio State University Press. I am currently seeking contributors who have investigated global systems of natural inquiry—preferably scholars closely connected to the cultures who generated the systems under investigation. If you are interested, please submit to Dr. Lynda Walsh at (a) an abstract of no more than 500 words describing the non-Anglo-American rhetoric of science you propose to investigate, the specific aspects of that tradition you will analyze, and the analytical method via which you propose to answer the italicized questions above; and (b) a one-page CV listing relevant publications and professional experiences. Deadline is September 1, 2018.

[1] I have used Western shorthand for these fields of inquiry due to space limitations; naturally, practitioners in these traditions would not have used these terms until the last century, if ever.

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