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Rhetoric and Representation : Exploring the Cultural Meaning of the Natural Sciences in Contemporary Popular Science Writing and Literature

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Rhetoric and Representation : Exploring the Cultural Meaning of the Natural Sciences in Contemporary Popular Science Writing and Literature

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Kirjallisuuden- ja kulttuurintutkimus on viimeisten kolmen vuosikymmenen aikana tullut yhä enenevässä määrin tietoiseksi tieteen ja taiteen suhteen monimutkaisesta luonteesta. Nykyään näiden kahden kulttuurin tutkimus muodostaa oman kenttänsä, jolla niiden suhdetta tarkastellaan ennen kaikkea dynaamisena vuorovaikutuksena, joka heijastaa kulttuurimme kieltä, arvoja ja ideologisia sisältöjä. Toisin kuin aiemmat näkemykset, jotka pitävät tiedettä ja taidetta toisilleen enemmän tai vähemmän vastakkaisina pyrkimyksinä, nykytutkimus lähtee oletuksesta, jonka mukaan ne ovat kulttuurillisesti rakentuneita diskursseja, jotka kohtaavat usein samankaltaisia todellisuuden mallintamiseen liittyviä ongelmia, vaikka niiden käyttämät metodit eroavatkin toisistaan. Väitöskirjani keskittyy yllä mainitun suhteen osa-alueista popularisoidun tietokirjallisuuden (muun muassa Paul Davies, James Gleick ja Richard Dawkins) käyttämän kielen ja luonnontieteistä ideoita ammentavan kaunokirjallisuuden (muun muassa Jeanette Winterson, Tom Stoppard ja Richard Powers) hyödyntämien keinojen tarkasteluun nojautuen yli 30 teoksen kattavaa aineistoa koskevaan tyylin ja teemojen tekstianalyysiin. Populaarin tietokirjallisuuden osalta tarkoituksenani on osoittaa, että sen käyttämä kieli rakentuu huomattavassa määrin sellaisille rakenteille, jotka tarjoavat mahdollisuuden esittää todellisuutta koskevia argumentteja mahdollisimman vakuuttavalla tavalla. Tässä tehtävässä monilla klassisen retoriikan määrittelemillä kuvioilla on tärkeä rooli, koska ne auttavat liittämään sanotun sisällön ja muodon tiukasti toisiinsa: retoristen kuvioiden käyttö ei näin ollen edusta pelkkää tyylikeinoa, vaan se myös usein kiteyttää argumenttien taustalla olevat tieteenfilosofiset olettamukset ja auttaa vakiinnuttamaan argumentoinnin logiikan. Koska monet aikaisemmin ilmestyneistä tutkimuksista ovat keskittyneet pelkästään metaforan rooliin tieteellisissä argumenteissa, tämä väitöskirja pyrkii laajentamaan tutkimuskenttää analysoimalla myös toisenlaisten kuvioiden käyttöä. Osoitan myös, että retoristen kuvioiden käyttö muodostaa yhtymäkohdan tieteellisiä ideoita hyödyntävään kaunokirjallisuuteen. Siinä missä popularisoitu tiede käyttää retoriikkaa vahvistaakseen sekä argumentatiivisia että kaunokirjallisia ominaisuuksiaan, kuvaa tällainen sanataide tiedettä tavoilla, jotka usein heijastelevat tietokirjallisuuden kielellisiä rakenteita. Toisaalta on myös mahdollista nähdä, miten kaunokirjallisuuden keinot heijastuvat popularisoidun tieteen kerrontatapoihin ja kieleen todistaen kahden kulttuurin dynaamisesta vuorovaikutuksesta. Nykyaikaisen populaaritieteen retoristen elementtien ja kaunokirjallisuuden keinojen vertailu näyttää lisäksi, kuinka tiede ja taide osallistuvat keskusteluun kulttuurimme tiettyjen peruskäsitteiden kuten identiteetin, tiedon ja ajan merkityksestä. Tällä tavoin on mahdollista nähdä, että molemmat ovat perustavanlaatuisia osia merkityksenantoprosessissa, jonka kautta niin tieteelliset ideat kuin ihmiselämän suuret kysymyksetkin saavat kulttuurillisesti rakentuneen merkityksensä. During the last thirty years literary critics have become increasingly aware of the complexities surrounding the relationship between the so-called two cultures of science and literature. Today their study forms an independent field of research, in which their relationship is above all seen in terms of dynamic interaction that reflects the language, values and ideologies of our culture. Instead of regarding them as antagonistic endeavours, many now argue that the two are essentially cultural discourses that often encounter similar problems of representing reality, even though their methods differ from each other. Of the various aspects of the relationship between science and literature, my doctoral dissertation focuses on the language of popular science writing (including popularizers such as Paul Davies, James Gleick and Richard Dawkins) and the representation of scientific ideas in literature (including authors and playwrights such as Jeanette Winterson, Tom Stoppard and Richard Powers) by using methods of stylistic and thematic textual analysis on the substantial material of more than thirty texts. As regards the former, my aim is to show that our understanding of scientific ideas is to a considerable extent built on the employment of linguistic structures that allow genres of science writing such as popular science to express arguments in a persuasive manner. In this task the figurative language of classical rhetoric plays a significant role, as it helps create a close link between content and form, the latter not only stylistically supporting the former but also frequently epitomizing the philosophy behind what is said and establishing various kinds of argumentative logic. Since many previous studies have tended to focus only on the use of metaphor in scientific arguments, my thesis seeks to widen the scope by analysing the use of other figures of speech as well. I also suggest that figurative language constitutes a bridge to literature employing scientific ideas. While popular science employs figurative language to enhance its rhetorical and literary qualities, such literature uses ideas drawn from the natural sciences by its own techniques of representation, so that the rhetoric of popularized accounts is evident in the portrayals. On the other hand, it is possible to argue that the narratives of popular science writing reflect the literary portrayals of science, thus testifying to the dynamic interaction of the two cultures. Moreover, the comparative analysis of contemporary popular science writing and literature shows how the two participate in the discussion about the meaning of certain basic concepts in our culture, such as identity, knowledge and time. In this way, it is possible to understand that they are elementary constituents in the process of signification through which scientific ideas as well as fundamental questions concerning human life are given their culturally determined meaning and relevance.

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