R1A - 003 | CCN: 45262

The Craft of Writing

Science Studies, Rhetoric, and the (Re-)Composition of the World

Instructor: Anooj Kansara & Devin Choudhury

4 Units

Consider the tick. Its perceptual organs can detect the odor of butyric acid emitted by the follicles of mammals, triggering a response that awakens it from its slumber and signals it to drop onto its future host. The tick "knows" how to navigate its way through fur to warm skin, where it can feed and continue its reproductive cycle. How is the tick's world composed? And in distinction to the world of the tick, how is the world of "the human" composed and ordered? Humans are thought to have developed a distinctive capacity "to know" the world, in part through "science" and its evolving repertoire of techniques and technologies. What is this "knowledge"? Who has the authority required to maintain and control knowledge, and why? How do science, scientific practice, and technologies rearticulate not just our relation to the world but the composition of the world itself? And how can these questions inform the way in which we compose and organize our writing?

This course will consider interdisciplinary work in the history, philosophy, and anthropology of science and scientific practice to investigate the ways in which humans (have attempted to) obtain, construct, order, label, and disseminate knowledge. In attempting to achieve this goal, we will examine classical Western modes of inquiry, as well as colonial and postcolonial ways of knowing. We will also reflect upon the rhetorics, techniques, and technologies involved in scientific practices that construct knowledge and (re-)compose the world. In addition to texts from theorists like Michel Foucault and Bruno Latour, we will consider the ways in which film, poetry, and novels articulate different orderings of the world and techniques for its (re-)composition, as well as the ways in which these forms both influence and are influenced by scientific practice. By the end of the course, students will have the skills to critically reflect on their own composition practices, considering the various ways in which arguments can be (re-)organized and (de-)constructed.