On the Frontier of Science
An American Rhetoric of Exploration and Exploitation
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Michigan State University Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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This book has benefitted, as all my scholarship has, from the encouragement and thoughtful commentary of many colleagues in the fields of communication, rhetoric, and science studies. To reduce the feeling of déjà vu for my readers, I chose not to seek journal publication for any of the work that would go into this book. But my arguments will be familiar to some of you nonetheless, since I have presented portions of it in invited lectures at University of Memphis, ...
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In 1984, President Ronald Reagan campaigned for reelection by appealing to a mythic vision of America as “a shining city on a hill.”1 Democratic National Convention keynote speaker Mario Cuomo The Republicans believe that the wagon train will not make it to the fron-tier unless some of the old, some of the young, some of the weak are left behind by the side of the trail. “The strong”— “The strong,” they tell us, “will inherit the land.” We Democrats believe in something else. We Demo-...
Chapter One. History of the Frontier of Science Metaphor
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To begin a scholarly conversation about the “frontier of science” in American public address, a historical study of the metaphor is a logical starting point. As the rhetorical critic James Jasinski reminds us, “the words employed by any author are always already part of a performative tradition in which the author is situated and from which the author draws,” and a “metaphoric structure” commonly used in a particular culture is one example of a performative tradition that ...
Chapter Two. The Frontier Metaphor in Public Speeches by American Scientists
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At the beginning of the twentieth century in America, when the western frontier had disappeared because the citizenry had suf-ficiently spread out to fill the empty places on the nation’s maps, Americans came to believe that it was a pioneering spirit that most distinguished their national character. As the preceding chapter docu-mented, the “frontier of science” was introduced by Frederick Jackson Turner and others as a promising new metaphor to meet the American ...
Chapter Three. The Dangers of Bioprospecting on the Frontier: The Rhetoric of Edward O. Wilson's Biodiversity Appeals
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One scientist whose use of the “frontier of science” metaphor has resulted in some unintended consequences for his own work is biologist Edward O. Wilson. For example, his 1998 national best seller, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, drew on the metaphor while arguing for the construction of a bridge between the natural sci-ences and the social sciences and humanities. A review of his book by the historian of science D. Graham Burnett captured the skeptical ...
Chapter Four. Biocolonialism and Human Genomics Research: The Frontier Mapping Expedition of Francis Collins
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Edward O. Wilson’s appeal to the frontier spirit of American read-ers backfired on him when Brazilian readers encountered his arguments; it also was counterproductive with American readers insofar as his celebration of frontier attitudes contradicted his central argument that we should preserve biodiversity by halting our advance across frontier lands. In a similar way, Francis Collins drew on the fron-tier myth to excite American readers about the accomplishments of ...
Chapter Five. Reframing the Frontier of Science: George W. Bush's Stem Cell Rhetoric
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Like Francis Collins, President George W. Bush tried to pull away from the rhetorical force of the “frontier of science” metaphor when addressing an American audience about new and promis-ing scientific research. But unlike Collins, Bush chose not to offer an explicit critique of the troubling implications of the metaphor. Instead, he chose other rhetorical strategies to subtly call into question the intrepid boundary- crossing that the myth promoted. Bush’s attempt ...
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Patricia Nelson Limerick pointed out that “the relation between the frontier and the American mind is not a simple one.”1 This book demonstrates the truth of that statement when it comes to the “frontier of science” metaphor. The metaphor guides American think-ing about science so that the prospect of halting research in a particular area becomes unimaginable. It encourages themes of competitiveness and economic exploitation even when used by rhetors sensitive to the dan-...
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Page Count: 218
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Rhetoric & Public Affairs