115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

Teaching the Rhetoric of Science through Science Fiction

Jerome Winter, University of California, Riverside

This presentation will explore the rhetoric and pedagogy of teaching citizen science through science-fiction (SF) literature in the college composition classroom. he presentation will discuss both historical precedent and innovative methodologies in using long single-author texts and briefer excerpts or short stories of SF literature to acclimate students to examining the rhetorical and cultural positioning of science in society. 

Proposal: 

This presentation will explore the rhetoric and pedagogy of teaching citizen science through science-fiction (SF) literature in the college composition classroom. In Citizen Science in the Digital Age, (2017) James Wynn describes the burgeoning rhetoric of “citizen science” as designed to not only reverse the rising tide of scientific illiteracy but to educate and promote deep, complex identification with scientific debates and discourse of public science. The presentation will discuss both historical precedent and innovative methodologies in using long single-author texts and briefer excerpts or short stories of SF literature to acclimate students to examining the rhetorical and cultural positioning of science in society. It will discuss the ways specific SF texts can facilitate students’ critical engagement with scientific discoveries and technological inventions by not only collaborating meaningfully in the process of gathering crowd-sourced data as virtual field assistants but also, crucially, in the more rhetorically sophisticated role of generating research questions, testing hypotheses, assessing risks, and even making policy. In this fashion, this presentation will supplement and develop the primary assertion articulated in Michael Zerbe’s Composition and the Rhetoric of Science (2007). This composition-theory text attempts to develop and refine a composition-and-rhetoric approach to scientific subjects that educates, informs, and even trains students, both those who are science majors and those from a variety of other disciplines, to grasp the significance of science in their everyday lives and to participate and even challenge the authority of scientific discourse, or its representation in mass media, when deemed appropriate.