A listing of current courses in the Rhetoric of Science & Technology
Rhetoric of Science
Instructor: Carl Herndl, Spring 2009
This course is an introduction to the research in the rhetoric of science, a tradition that approaches science as a discursive, cultural, and political practice. Within rhetorical studies, scientific discourse is now understood as a discursive practice shaped by disciplinary conventions, material conditions, and ideological commitments as well as a disciplined relationship to "external reality." To argue in a facile way that science is nothing but a social construction usually ignores the fact that science and the scientific method have been extraordinarily powerful and productive. But to take that power and productivity at face value ignores questions of culture, of social power, of discursive restrictions and exclusions, of language as the fundamental medium of scientific work. As Bruno Latour has argued, the opposition of skeptical social construction or confident positivism is a facile position that obscures the fine grained processes of scientific activity. We might ask this as the question of how science "hooks up" with a material world through language and how it authorizes and understands these procedures. Finally, the contemporary "participatory turn" in science studies moves us out of the laboratory or library and into the public and policy spheres where science and policy interact.
We will read work in the history and philosophy of science (e.g. Kuhn, Popper, Rorty, Davidson, Galison) in the social study of science (e.g. Latour, Woolgar, Myers, Starr, Gieryn) and influential work in the rhetorical and cultural study of science (e.g. Bazerman, Foucault, Gross, Harris, Miller, Fox-Keller, Haraway, Longino), and in the relations between science and citizenship and policy (e.g. Collins and Evans, Wynne). As part of the semester, Greg Wilson will visit the class and we will read his manuscript on gradualism and disciplinary change. And I will bring the group a manuscript book chapter on agricultural ecology and rhetorical agency. Class will be organized as a seminar with students required to make class presentations on outside readings and lead the class discussion at least once during the semester. A substantial written project will also be required.
Critical Theories of Technology
Instructor: Lee Honeycutt, Spring 2010
This course introduces graduate students to several philosophers, historians, and rhetoricians whose works on technology are useful in forging connections with rhetorical theory. Though the course covers early statements on technology, such as those by Plato, Aristotle, and the Romans, its primary focus is on more recent theorists of technology and their critiques of the modern technological landscape. Topics include historical attitudes toward technology, technological determinism, instrumental/substantive views of technology, the relationship between democracy and technology, and the sustainability of technological systems. Assignments include contributing to class discussions, two short position papers, and a final 25- to 30-page research paper. http://honeyl.public.iastate.edu/621/
Rhetoric and Risk Communication
Instructor: Greg Wilson, Proposed
This course will look at Rhetoric and Risk Communication in a way that is useful to both rhetoric and technical communication students at the Ph.D. and M.A. levels. The course will combine theoretical and practical readings in rhetoric and students will select an area of risk which they will research and in which they will become knowledgeable (e.g., earthquakes, wildfires, pandemic flu, AIDS, terrorism, nuclear war, teen pregnancy). Over the course of the semester students will synthesize across the assigned readings, critiquing risk communication efforts in their selected area of expertise, and preparing a set of written products that suit their interests or professional goals. Students interested in technical communication may prepare a portfolio of risk communication materials that address the issues in their area of expertise. Students interested in scholarly writing can prepare a set of short critical papers (or a longer critical paper) that relate their area of expertise with rhetorical and cultural theory.
Technology in Business, Technical, and Professional Communication
Instructor: Lee Honeycutt, Spring 2010
Students in this course examine numerous issues about the role that technology plays in business and technical communication, including the shifting nature of literacy and rhetorical representation in the digital age, and the persistent tug of older analog technologies. The course places equal importance on theoretical and practical understandings of how new technologies help shape the rhetorical decisions of technical communicators in an increasingly electronic workplace. http://honeyl.public.iastate.edu/505/