Writing Science

Timothy Lenoir, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, series editors

Science is writing. Graphic traces produced in experiments and computer visualizations are the precondition for other forms of literal and literary sense-making as representations of nature are elaborated and interpreted. Scientists write. They construct instruments to translate signals into inscriptions, which are then assembled and manipulated as texts. In successive drafts of scientific papers their writing is the site of theory production.

The Writing Science series brings together textual studies and science studies, which share an epistemological and historical concern with the conditions grounding the emergence of meaning and signification. Its authors are interested in tangled and layered political and economic histories and the way they become naturalized by signs. Inscribed into society through technologies of writing, photography, film, museum exhibits, teaching materials, and guide-books, such signs subtend struggles to define both society and nature.

But language is not pure sign, it is also a thing. This exteriority – word as object rather than sense – is an irreducible element within the signifying scene. Language is tied to voice, to typeface, to bitmaps on a screen, to materiality. Graphic traces and other visualizations are irreducible to words. Their interpretation is never fully controllable by the writing scientist. Writing Science volumes examine the ways scientific images and models depend upon material technologies of representation and reproduction at work in society. These resources include the media for producing signs, such as standardized paint-pigments, photographic equipment, and phonographs – the materialities of communication. They invoke systems for delegating power. And they are infused with the social imaginary of narrative and myth.

The Writing Science series investigates the culture of science: its heterogeneous, disunified nature and its practice-and-instrument-laden character. Studies in the series treat scientific knowledge as situated and partial; they explore how the work of theorists, experimenters, and technicians is coordinated locally and translated globally to other sites, linking diverse networks of actors. Writing Science volumes examine the literary technologies practitioners of science employ to fashion arguments and enroll other social worlds into agreement; they analyze the ways local contexts are multiplied in order to account for the striking capacity of science to capture supposedly universal features of the world.

This series is closed.

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