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History of Science / Women's Studies / Literature


Natural Eloquence
Women Reinscribe Science
Edited by Barbara T. Gates and Ann B. Shteir

Science and Literature

Women have long participated in the dissemination of science, a part of the history of science that until recently has been undervalued and little explored.

By practicing the arts of science writing, lecturing, and scientific illustration, women popularizers of science have played a significant role in creating scientific culture. Natural Eloquence, a collection of essays examining the work of both lesser-known women of science from the nineteenth century and such prominent twentieth-century figures as Rachel Carson, Dian Fossey, and Diane Ackerman, raises thoughtful questions about marginalization, popularization, and originality.

Illuminating many facets of women's science writing in the English-speaking world, some essays show how women pioneered in describing the natural histories of Canada, Australia, and the United States. Other essays look at the ways British and American science writers positioned themselves to address audiences of women, children, and the working class. Women also established literary traditions in science, tested the limits of established scientific writing, provided alternate visions of science (including critiques of Darwin's theories of sexual selection), and fashioned new representations of self and nature.

"Natural Eloquence raises crucial issues about the nature of popularization and of women's science in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It introduces little-known or unknown women scientists and popularizers of science, showing how and why they achieved their local popularity, how their arguments developed, and how romantic or pious engagements with nature turned in the twentieth century to a much bleaker vision."—George Levine, series editor

Barbara T. Gates is Alumni Distinguished Professor of English and Women's Studies at the University of Delaware. Her books include Victorian Suicide: Mad Crimes and Sad Histories. Ann B. Shteir is associate professor of humanities and director of the graduate program in women's studies at York University in Canada. She is the author of Cultivating Women, Cultivating Science: Flora's Daughters and Botany in England, 1760 to 1860, which won the 1996 Joan Kelly Memorial Prize in Women's History from the American Historical Society.

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June 1997
256 pp
.   6 x 9
12 b/w photos

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