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Starring the Text

Starring the Text

The Place of Rhetoric in Science Studies

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Alan G. Gross


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
232 pages, 6 x 9


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About the Book

Starring the Text: The Place of Rhetoric in Science Studies firmly establishes the rhetorical analysis of science as a respected field of study. Alan G. Gross, one of rhetoric’s foremost authorities, summarizes the state of the field and demonstrates the role of rhetorical analysis in the sciences. He documents the limits of such analyses with examples from biology and physics, explores their range of application, and sheds light on the tangled relationships between science and society. In this deep revision of his important Rhetoric of Science, Gross examines how rhetorical analyses have a wide range of application, effectively exploring the generation, spread, certification, and closure that characterize scientific knowledge. Gross anchors his position in philosophical rather than in rhetorical arguments and maintains there is rhetorical criticism from which the sciences cannot be excluded.

Gross employs a variety of case studies and examples to assess the limits of the rhetorical analysis of science. For example, in examining avian taxonomy, he demonstrates that both taxonomical and evolutionary species are the product of rhetorical interactions. A review of Newton’s two formulations of optical research illustrates that their only significant difference is rhetorical, a difference in patterns of style, arrangement, and argument. Gross also explores the range of rhetorical analysis in his consideration of the “evolution of evolution” of Darwin’s notebooks. In his analysis of science and society, he explains the limits of citizen action in executive, judicial, and legislative democratic realms in the struggle to prevent, ameliorate, and provide adequate compensation for occupational disease. By using philosophical, historical, and psychological perspectives, Gross concludes, rhetorical analysis can also supplement other viewpoints in resolving intellectual problems.

Starring the Text, which includes fourteen illustrations, is an updated, readable study geared to rhetoricians, historians, philosophers, and sociologists interested in science. The volume effectively demonstrates that the rhetoric of science is a natural extension of rhetorical theory and criticism.


Alan G. Gross is a professor of rhetoric at the University of Minnesota. He is coeditor of Rereading Aristotle’s Rhetoric, published by Southern Illinois University Press, the author of The Rhetoric of Science, and coauthor of Communicating Science: From the 17th Century to the Present, and Chaim Perelman.


 “Starring the Text brings the gravamen of Alan Gross’s rhetoric of science project to its sharpest resolution. The strong case Gross makes for the distinctive contribution of the rhetoric of science to understanding science and the clear yet complementary differentiation in function it makes between rhetorical and sociological interpretations is convincing and elegantly perspicuous.”—John Angus Campbell, University of Memphis

 “Informative and illuminating, Starring the Text adds impressive new research in primary sources. Alan Gross effectively frames challenging points and offers an economical exposition of the background science needed to understand the volume’s cases and theories. He demonstrates superior scholarship throughout, exemplified by his deftness at using rhetorical theory from Aristotle in antiquity to Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca in the twentieth century.”—Jeanne Fahnestock, author of Figures of Argument: Studies in the Rhetoric of Science