This blog examines the persuasive power of neuroscience by undertaking a rhetorical analysis leading from neuroscience’s birth as a research area in the 1940s to the present. Using rhetorical genealogy, I trace the histories of discourse patterns (metaphors, rhetorical figures, and claims) across scientific articles, popular books, and news reports. This blog investigates questions such as:
- what accounts for the persuasiveness of appeals to the brain–specifically appeals to neurorealism, neuroessentialism, and neuropolicy?
- how do those appeals work rhetorically?
- did/do neuroscientists encourage popular uptake of their ideas, not only in popular books, but in scientific articles?
- how is neuroscience used to support arguments about education, politics, education, and consumerism?
More broadly, the project demonstrates how an approach grounded in rhetoric can help humanists to productively engage with scientific researchers.
I’m professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where I have taught courses in science writing, women’s rhetorics, rhetorical theory, and composition pedagogy since 2005.
I earned my Master’s and PhD in English from Pennsylvania State University in 2005. Before that, I earned my Bachelor’s of Arts in English at Glendon College, York University, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 2000.
Research interests: rhetoric and composition, women’s rhetorics, rhetoric of science, rhetorical theory, technical and scientific writing, disability studies, medical humanities, science studies, rhetoric of medicine, health, and disability, rhetoric and/of neuroscience.
For a list of publications, my professional CV, and more, see my professional site.
Email me: jjack (at) email.unc.edu
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