Edited By Jadwiga Wegrodzka
Possible men and women of science: Constru(ct)ing characters in academic fictions
The first property of light we consider is reflection from a surface, such as that of a mirror.
For obvious reasons a density of scholars, scientists and geniuses per square mile in the mainstream college novel, together with its science in fiction and lab literature sub-genres, is high and provides an interesting research material exemplifying techniques of introducing science as well as possible (wo)men of science into the literary discourse. As Peter J. Rabinovitz asserts, we may choose between different lines of inquiry concerning the use of science in literary texts: first, we can focus on the mutual influence of science and literature; second, we may deal with their shared premises or epistemological differences exploring the ways in which fiction refracts science; third, we can analyze the representation of science and scientists as thematic content and scrutinize narrative commentary on science, pursuing thereby issues of scientific truth in literature; and forth, we can focus on the rhetorical use of science, that is, on how science is used in texts in order to mould the reader’s experience. Rabinovitz distinguishes three axes along which science operates rhetorically: Plot Requirements, Positional Reinforcement, and Possible People (2011: 202).
In what will follow I intend to focus on selected aspects of constructing and construing possible scientists and outline some of the methods which enable readers to assume that they know ‘what it is like’ to be a scientist and a genius. My point...
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