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SERIES EDITOR’S PREFACE In Introducing Science through Images, Maria Gigante offers a critical history and analysis of the way scientific writing that targets popular general audiences has used illustrations to capture and frame readers’ attention to the text. Because such writing is directed at a popular audience, it is not expected that the images would perform the function of advancing strictly scientific evidence—and they typically do not. But the images inevitably do exercise a didactic, or teaching, function, shaping the reader’s understanding of the writing that follows. Professor Gigante considers such scientific illustrations as “portals,” as entry points and introductions to popular scientific writing. She traces the use of such portals across centuries and genres, seeking to find how they may appropriately create public understanding of science. Professor Gigante argues that popular scientific illustration has the potential to build a deeper understanding of the scientific mission that would in turn encourage reliable public support for science as an institution. Yet she finds that the illustrations in frontispieces, portraits of scientists at work, popular science magazine covers, and online science-art competitions often fall short of their potential to democratize scientific understanding and instead obscure or mystify the scientific enterprise. These failures of popular scientific illustration are conventional, generic, and widespread, but they are not, argues Professor Gigante, necessary. Introducing Science through Images has the potential to reshape artistic representation of popular science. This brisk, pointed, historically rooted, theoretically scrupulous, and critically attentive account is sure to be of interest to all of us who study visual rhetoric and the rhetoric of science, and it has practical advice for scientists and the artists and writers who help to make their work accessible to a wider public. Thomas W. Benson ...


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MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
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