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Rhetoric, Discourse and Knowledge

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Edited By Maria Załęska and Urszula Okulska

The authors of this volume explore rhetorical and discursive strategies used to negotiate and establish legitimate knowledge and its disciplinary boundaries, to make scientific knowledge interesting outside academic settings as well, and to manage (c)overt knowledge in different social and political contexts. The volume focuses on the cultural concept of knowledge society, examining diverse linguistic means of knowledge transmission from the perspective of the complex interplay between knowledge and persuasion. The contributors discuss both sociological and philosophical issues, as well as textual processes in different genres that aim to communicate knowledge.

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Rhetoric of science: Fixed and changing modes of scientific discourse (Maria Freddi)

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Maria Freddi

University of Pavia

Rhetoric of science: Fixed and changing modes of scientific discourse

Abstract: The paper identifies ten types of arguments that are found to run through time when scientist-writers address a mixed audience of literate people, apprentices and experts alike. The rhetoric of science is argued to be a useful exploratory means to develop understanding of scientific cultures and specialized discourses, as well as promote apprenticeship into the sciences.

1. Introduction: On the rhetoric of science

To explore the relationship between rhetoric and knowledge, I take scientific knowledge as the central issue and look at rhetoric of science as an opportunity of enculturation into specialized communication, a way into the gradual and systematic acquisition of the characteristics and norms of scientific and technical cultures by novices and experts alike. It is therefore the transfer of knowledge and apprenticeship into science that is the focal point of the present contribution.

My concern is primarily pedagogical to the extent that I believe rhetoric of science can be used as an empowering educational tool to promote advanced literacy and improve communication skills through a deeper understanding of scientific reasoning and ‘epistemic cultures’ (Knorr-Cetina 1999). A rhetorical approach to science can help to train new experts to perfect their literacy skills, while at the same time progressing with analytical knowledge of specialized discourse in the various genres of communication (see, for example, Bazerman 1988; Bazerman and...

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