Examining science as a rhetorical enterprise, this book seizes upon one scientific essay—"The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptationist Programme"—and probes it from many angles. Written by prominent evolutionary theorists Stephen Jay Gould and Richard C. Lewontin and first published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London in 1979, the "Spandrels" article is both serious science and vivid prose.
The essays here do not comment on the scientific merit of Gould and Lewontin’s essay, but rather use it as an example to demonstrate and test new analytical approaches to scientific rhetoric. Applying methods inspired by Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Ferdinand de Saussure, and others, the contributors employ a range of interpretive strategies: from postmodernist, intertextualist, feminist, structuralist, historicist, sociolinguistic, dramatist, and deconstructionist approaches to readings based on reader-response theory, protocol analysis, the sociology of science, and classical rhetorical theory.
Stephen Jay Gould submits his own retrospective in the final chapter, remarking on the genesis and reception of "Spandrels" and on the critical analyses of his work gathered here. The full text of "The Spandrels of San Marco" is reproduced as an appendix.
By introducing readers to methods of analysis implied by cultural studies and the concept of intertextuality, feminism and the sociology of science, structuralism and deconstruction, reader-response theory and historicism, the contributors to this volume mean to extend the approaches that are available to any critic of any kind of discourse. And in choosing to illustrate each method of analysis with a consideration of a single essay on the subject of evolutionary theory, they seek to add to the developing body of scholarship on the rhetoric of science. Paper edition (13904-2), $19.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)